Skip to main content

Full text of "Our image, The BP Review Supplement, December 1976/January 1977"

See other formats


Our Ima ge 

The BP Review Supplement ~ 



Number 6 



Agay 
world 
after all 

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) 
by Michael Lynch 



Ten years before he died. Hart Crane was 
still closeted enough to ask a Inend to 
keep secret his sexuality "Such things 
have a wholesale way ot leaking out!" he 
wrole. "Everyone knows now about 
Bynner, Hartley, and others — the list is 
too long to bother with." While it's odd to 
hear such words from Crane — the 
drunken and visionary Hart who within a 
lew years would be shouling "I am Walt 
Whitman!" — his reasoning was familiar 
Living at the time in Cleveland, he found 
"the ordinary business ol earning a living 
entirely loo stnngent to want to add any 
prejudices against me ot that nature in 
the minds ot any publicans and sinners." 
But the comment indicates something 
of Marsden Hartley's and Witter Bynners 
reputations in 1923. of their fame "in 
bohemian circles" as one of Crane's 
biographers put it, "for their flamboyant 
conduct ." Crane and Bynner we know as 
gay men, gay writers. But Marsden 
Hartley? As a painter — about whom his 
friend and sponsor Gertrude Stein said, 
"he deals with colors as actually as 
Picasso deals with forms" — he is, rightly 
best known. As a poet — whom Allen 
Ginsberg recently called "the poet as 
honest man, crank, goof, correct-minded 
queer, voice out of the pavement" — he 
is less known. As a writer of prose 
somewhat unknown. As a gay man in a 
gay world: hardly known at all. 

It is Hartley as homosexual that 
interests me here. For although his 
sexuality informed much of his life, his 
sensibility, and his art, it has been dealt 
with but passingly or ineptly in recent 
writing about him. Elsewhere I will 
address what I take to be the livelier 
question: the beanng ol his sexuality on 
his art. But here I offer notes toward his 
biography, notes on a life of color, lone- 
liness, fnnges, searching, homoerotic 
idealism, and, in various forms, of gay 
community 

1977 marks the centenary of Edmund 
Hartley's birth on January 4 in the small 
mill-town of Lewiston, Maine Here the 
broad Androscoggin River passes over a 
senes of rocky falls to edify the eye and 
empower the factories. His parents had 
marned after immigrating, separately, 
from near Manchesler, England; 
Thomas, his father, first worked as a 
cotton spinner and later became a bill 
poster for a local theatre Edmund was 
the youngest of nine children When he 
began selling his paintings, around the 
age of thirty, he began substituting 
"Marsden for his given name It was the 



maiden name of his stepmother- 
He lived in Lewiston/Aubum until he 
was fifteen, then moved with part of his 
family to Cleveland where he worked in a 
marble quarry and began painting. In 
November, 1699 he arrived in New York, 
on an art scholarsMp, to leam his craft 
From this time until he died in 1943 m 
Ellsworth, Maine, Hartley was pere- 
grine, hardly ever living in one place 
more than a year at a time. But the two 
geographic centres of his life were to 
remain Maine, whose lonely coasts, sea- 
birds, and fishermen drew him back 
again and again, and bohemian New 
York, where an artistic and gay 
community nourished him as New 
England never could. 

Surpnsingly, his introduction to a living 
gay tradition seems to have come not in 
Greenwich Village but in Maine. In 1905 
he met a circle of Whitman admirers and 
quickly grew close to them. Among these 
were William Sloan Kennedy, who gave 
Hartley a signed portrait ot Whitman 
which Whitman had given him just before 
he died; Thomas Bird Mosher, the 
socialist Maine publisher of Whitman and 
one of the earliest American publishers 
of Oscar Wilde; and Horace Traubel. 
socialist editor ot the Conservator, 
Whitman's secretary and biographer. 
Although each of these figures was 
later to reject as repugnant the notion of 
Whitman's, or their own, homosexuality 

— shortly before committing suicide in 
the twenties, Kennedy, for example, 
would write vitriolically about John 
Addington Symonds' view of Whitman: 

most {American readers] won't know 
what Symonds is driving at Our 
ancestors did not import these infra- 
bestial Onentai vices into 
America. 

— they were not, at this time, so homo- 
phobic. Dunng the next three years 
Hartley corresponded frequently with 
Traubel, and in 1908 wrote to the Irish 
poet Seumus O'Sheel of his affection for 
Mosher and Traubel, motioning that he 
had received a number of beautiful love 
letters from Traubel over the past three 
years These letters, which still exist, are 
brief, ecstatic, and tender 

Hartley even met. through this cotene, 
Whitman s lover Peter Doyle Having 
graduated from conducting a Washington 
streetcar, where Whitman first mel him, 
to the New York-New Haven railway, 
Doyle was now in his sixties, rotund from 
beer, and reticent 10 talk about Whitman. 




Adelard (he Drowned, Master ot the Phantom (1938/39). 



What a spectacle is Adelard... 

He lives utterly for the consummate satisfaction of the flesh, 
the kind of flesh making no difference... 
He has no common codes, no inhibitions — he will give as 
much love to a man as to a woman, he was totally loved by 
all of them up and down the coast, and because he was 
thrown over by the first woman, I think he has transferred his 
affections to his men friends for he loves them and will do 
anything for them, and with this comes no mercy, love for him 
being the outpouring of his devastating energy — all flame, 
smoke, fire, steam and animal hissing, he is thunder and 
lightning in one, and loves when he strikes — it is the 
measure of his common quietude. 

from "Cleophas and His Own" by Marsden Hartley 



Hartley's two prose sketches of these 
meetings remain. In one he tells of 
wanting to query Doyle about Whitman's 
"lady in New Orleans" and reputed 
"children "; after failing to ask Doyle, he 
asked Traubel and "got nothing but a 
quiet smile on that." 

Hartley spent the summer ot 1907 in a 
Utopian community in Greenacre, Maine, 
which attracted the Traubel group as well 
as other socialists and feminists. "Their 
special gods," Robert Burtingame has 
noted, "included Henry George, Karl 
Marx, and Walt Whitman.'' But although 
Hartley retained vague political sympa- 
thies during his life, the homoerotic 
idealism of this group affected him most. 
Whitman was, and remained a lover- 
god. Sometime before 1908 he painted 
"Walt Whitman's House, 328 Mickle 
Street, Camden"; later he did an etching 
of Whitman's New York birthplace. 
Towards the end of his life he returned to 
a Whitman-like affection in three portraits 
of. and two poems about, Abraham 
Lincoln 

I have seen infinite mercies 
on his woman's lower lip 
in the same way I have seen 
determination 



upon his man's upper. 

Pity has poured out from between 

these massive portals. 

Majesty of love has walked out 

of them 

clothed in amazingly decent garments 

Lincoln's face "is the one great face for 
me and I never tire of looking at it," 
Hartley wrote. "I am simply dead in love 
with that man." 

In 1909 Hartley gave his first show at 
the "Photo-Secession Gallery," better 
known as "291," the influential small 
gallery operated by Alfred Steiglitz who 
was to give Hartley both regular shows 
and financial support over the next thirty 
years. Steiglitz helped, in 1912, lo send 
Hartley off to Europe where his gay lite. 
as the life of his art, came into its own. 
In Paris he mel Gertrude Stem, who, a 
year later, would wnte one of her verbal 
"portraits" of him He mel Charle6 
Demuth, the other important gay painter 
of his generation, some ol whose homo- 
erotic paintings have only recently come 
to light. Hartley and Demuth would 
remain fnends until Demuth s death in 
1935 And he met Karl von Freyburg, a 
twenty-two year old German soldier with 
whom he fell in love 

After meeting Franz Marc and Wassily 



Dec -Jan /Body Politic 



Our Image/ 1 



Our Image 

Books 

Mass Media 
The Arts 




Contents 



Features 

•A Gay World After All" — 

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) 1 

"Queer Doings" 

Attitudes towards homosexuality 
In 19th century Canada 4 

Ralner Werner Fassblnder 8 

Books 

Sexual Variance in Society 

and History 11 

In Her Day 11 

The Church and the Homosexual 12 

Propos pour une liberation 

(homo)sexuelle 12 

Oscar Wilde -3 books 13 

Superstar Murder? 13 

Music 

Living with Lesbians 1 4 

Songs of Love and Struggle 14 

All Our Lives 14 

Dance 

Metaphors - Dutch National 
Ballet 15 

Theatre 

An Evening with Oscar Wifde 1 5 

Press 

The Canadian Churchman 1 5 

Canadian Theatre Review 16 

Column 

The Ivory Tunnel 16 



Contributors 

Will Aiken, a Ireelance journalist and 
writer, teaches English al Vanier College 
in Monlrea' 

Christine Bearchell. a 23 year old 
lesbian feminist and socialist, is a 
member of the Lesbian Caucus of GATE 
(Toronto) and lormer chairperson ol the 
Committee to Delend John Damien 
Christopher Headon teaches in the 
Department of Religious Studies at 
Laurentian University in Sudbury. 

Graham Jackson is a Toronto writer A 
collection of his short stones, Gardens 
was recently published by Catalyst 
Press 

Stephen Murray is a doctoral candidate 
in sociology and an instructor in religious 
studies at the University of Toronto- 
Robert Padgug. 33, is a professor of 
hislory at Rutgers College in New 
Brunswick, New Jersey He is in the 
process of being fired, tenure having 
been denied 

Cheryl Pruttt is a lesbian activist and 
singer who presently lives in Toronto 

Robert Wallace playwnght. director and 
author of the play No Deposit, No 
Return, teaches English and Humanities 
at Glendon College, York University, in 
Toronto 

Ian Young, well-known poet living in 
Scarborough, Onlaho, founded the gay 
publishing house. Catalyst Press 



Kandinsky in Munich, Hartley settled m 
Berlin in 1913 where he lound tremen- 
dous excitement I had never felt such 
voluptuous tension m the air anywhere, 
he wrote Stem The bnght military 
pageantry, the vivacious gay bars, and 
the proximity of Demuth and von 
Freyburg thrilled him 

Except for one Inp back home, Hartley 
remained in Berlin until December, 1915. 
He was painting a senes of large 
abstractions which have had a formative 
impact upon the abstract expressionism 



"love squashed flat into patterns of 
admiration.' 

Twenty-four years later Hartley wrote a 
deeply moving "letter" to Karl von 
Freyburg that will, if it is ever pub- 
lished, be treasured wherever men 
derive their deeper dreams and higher 
ideas from the love of other men With 
gentle humor it recalls Karl, speculates 
on his current condition, blends Hartley's 
lifelong fascination with fringes and 
borders into the politics of the 1938 
Anschluss And it recalls a dream in 




Finnish-Yankee Sauna 1 1938-39). 

The nudes' emphatic musculature, nipples, and genitals made 
their erotic power inescapable — and so embarassing to 
most historians that, as William Gerdts has written, the male 
nudes are perhaps the least studied aspect of Hartley's art.' 



of our own era. In a way. though, these 
were less abstractions than still lifes * 
based on parts of military umlorms, 
insignias, flags, and symbols such as 
iron crosses, panoplied horses, and 
stars Hartley had experimented with 
abstractionism as early as 1911, and it is 
ironic that this 191 1 'Abstraction" was 
painted on the back of a cardboard piece 
cut from one of Hartley's earliest known 
paintings — a male nude Ironic because 
much of the charge ol the designs in 
these Berlin abstractions was homo- 
erotic, part of Hartley's response to the 
handsome soldiers who abounded in the 
city And because the latter half of this 
series was a gnef-laden reaction to the 
death of Karl von Freyburg 

Lieutenant von Freyburg was killed on 
7 October 1914 in Arras, one ot the first 
casualties of the looming war. Hartleys 
grief was overwhelming. It poured out in 
letter after letter Karl's beauty, charm, 
and grace became a symbol for all 
beauty, especially for that ol the young 
men who were heading, Irom both sides, 
toward death along that lengthening line 
The vocabulary of the abstractions 
served to express this grief — and one 
notes that it was a fortunate evasion to 
explicit homoerolic content even as it 
engaged the intense homoerolic emo- 
tions The canvases were usually 
covered with a bnlliant black ground, and 
the vivid designs over this often included 
the initials KvF and the number 24, 
Karl's age at his dealh They are. to 
borrow a phrase Irom a Hartley poem. 



which Karl appeared in full uniform, bul 
pure white, purged of all its military sig- 
nificance — testimony to what he had 
maintained since the first Berlin years: 
that his paintings did nol celebrate miii- 
lansm but the male beauty which the 
circus-like pageantry in Beriin brought 
out. 

Forced by the war to return to the 
U S , Hartley dnfted out of New York for 
periods in Provincelown (dunng its 
famous summer of 1917), Maine. 
Bermuda [with Charles Demuth). and 
(like other New York painters of the day) 
Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 
Cape Cod he met Carl Spnnchom, a 
young Swedish painter who was to 
become his lifelong Inend, who would 
himself settle in Maine and paint charm- 
ingly and exhaustively almost every 
phase of lumberjack life Through 
Sprinchom, Robert Burlingame wntes. 
Hartley "was able to ease the pain of his 
memory of Freyburg's death " Dunng a 
bnef stay in California he mel the gay 
writer and publisher Robert McAlmon 
(whose notorious Village wedding to the 
lesbian writer Bryher in 1921 Hartley 
would attend) He was introduced, by 
Sprinchom, to the work ol Rex Slinkard. 
a young poet recently killed m the 
influenza epidemic, whose fervent ten- 
derness in letters and paintings led 
Hartley to write a catalogue introduction 
for a memorial exhibition 

Somewhere along the way he'd 
become friends with Wallace Gould, a 
giant of a man, gay. also from Lewiston 



but five years Hartley's junior, who in 
1917 dedicated his book of poems called 
Children of the Sun to Hartley 

In 1920-21 he shared a New York 
apartment with an actor, George de 
Winter (We can glimpse Hartley, dunng 
this penod, in the figure ol Brander 
Ogden m McAlmon s story "Post- 
Adolescence,") In mid-1921, however, he 
returned to Europe: Pans first, which he 
found dead, and then his real goal 
Berlin Here he had, as McAlmon later 
wrote, Inends among lha> theatncal and 
artistic people." Here he found a high life 
among the low life. McAlmon set the 
scene 

Hirschfield was conducting his 
psychoanalytic school and a number of 
souls unsure.of their sexes or ol their 
inhibitions competed with each other in 
looking or acting freakishly, several 
Germans declared themselves authen- 
tic hermaphrodites, and one elderly 
vanant loved to amve at the smart 
cabarets each lime as a different 
type ol woman: elegant, or as a 
washerwoman, or a slreet vendor. 
or as a modest mother ol a family He 
was very comical and his presence 
always made for hilanty, as did the 
presence of a chorus boy Irom New 
York. The chorus boy was on in years, 
bul he fancied himself Bert Savoy 
and was nbaldly outnghl and exlremely 
weird. 

Like McAlmon, Hartley became Inends 
with Djuna Barnes during this period, and 
also with the Berlin originals for some of 
her Nightwood characters including that 
for Dr Matthew O'Connor Years later 
Hartley would find this novel loo hyp- 
nolically lurid, much as he would Imd 
Crane's alcoholic and sexual exhibitions 
excessive, Nightwood. he said, re- 
minded him of Baron Corvo 

In the fifteen years between his return 
Iq Berlin and his 1936 tragedy-laden 
sojourn in Nova Scolia, Hartley lived in 
many places and developed many 
subjects m his paintings still lites, moun- 
tamscapes, Ihe primitive rock formations 
of Dogtown. Massachusetts, arcane 
symbols Irom Ihe literature ol myslicism 
he was increasingly reading. Whatever 
his sexual activity — and there's no 
reason to think he was any more chaste 
now than he had been in his thirties — 
his reaction to homosexuality seems in- 
creasingly to have polanzed homo- 
erolicism was more and more linked to 
an ideal realm, linked to whai would later 
become Christ as the divine and 
suffering lover . and it was more and 
more repugnant as he saw it in Hart 
Crane But in the middle ground, where 
he sought to live, he found a gay lone- 
liness which led him bolh to Ireasure 
isolated places and things and to seek 
the community which mellow male Inend- 
ships provided- 
Crane he had first mel m 1924 in 
Brooklyn when Hart was living with Emil 
Opffer. was wriling "Voyages" and begin- 
ning The Bridge In 1929 they met acci- 
dently in Marseilles. Crane. Hartley said, 
was "running up and down Ihe 
Cannabiere in search ol some phantom or 
other " And in 1932 in Mexico Ihey spent 
hours together dunng Ihe lurbulent last 
month of Crane's life. Crane s suicide at 
sea overwhelmed Hartley much as the 
death of von Freyburg had. He wrote a 
long threnody for Crane — "Love is love. 
Hart, and you were loved' — that 
echoed "Lycidas. Gerard Manley 
Hopkins, and Whitman's great love-death 
poem, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly 
Rocking " He pamted "Eighl Bells Folly, " 
one of his few symbolist paintings thai 
are convincing Lafer he wrole two prose 
pieces recalling Crane with consider- 
able agitation and evasion Crane the 
skilled singer of Platonic harmonies en- 
thralled him, Crane Ihe driven seeker of 
Dionysian ecstasies appalled and fas- 
cinated him. But dunng this last month, 
according to John Unterecker. Hartley 
was one of the lew persons Crane 
trusted. 

In 1931, 34, and 36. Hartley spent 
time in the artists community in Glouces- 
ter, Massachusetts ; Charles Olson later 
remarked in Maxlmus, Hartley s eyes, 
his hands refusing woman s flesh, and 



2/Our lm»g« 



Dec^Jan/Body Politic 



Our Image 



£, MOROCCO SPAM HUN£A(& GfcEf^ 



Untitled. (Five Lobstermen and Christ 
Figure — Plata Concept.) 



1 ■ ■ 




Painting No. 47, Berlin (1914-15). 



Gay World 

ll'S a gay world after all. I knew it 
was, only there are so many things that 
make it dark and much beside Ihe point 
nol to say cheaply, utterly out ol jotni. 
I like to call it gay, this world, because 
it I didn't know most ol these (oiks 
like flags in the wind unfurled, 
I would be inclined to say — "tiresome world, 
troublesome world, how do you get that way?' 1 
Bui these folks I know, or certainly would 
want to know it i( I didn't, makes il 
seem like a gay world to me. 
Of course tomorrow we might all be feeling 
different, 

truth lo tell in all probability will, 
like'em now very much and that will 



do. I 



say. 



Marsden Hartley not long before he died in 
1943. photographed by his friend George 
1 PlBtt Lynea. 




his humanizing "transubstantialions/as I 
am nol permitted' 

such cloth he fumed alt things to. 

made palms of hands of gulls. 

Maine monoliths apostles. 

a meal of fish 3 final supper 

— made Crane a Marseilles matelol 

Olson spoke Irue. For Hartley's 
idealism was directed, as Whitman's and 
Hopkins' had been, nol jusl towards 
elevating the human but towards 
humanizing the ideal As with Hopkins 
whose poetry he imilated, he focused on 
Chrisl as a lovely and loving man. 
admired especially the Chnsf and 
apostles of Masaccio in "The Tribute 
Money'' at Florence (Whether he knew 
the old tradition that Masaccio was gay I 
don'l yet know.) Hartley's "ideal'' was 
gentle, warm, tender, as he himself was 
behind his rather aloof Maine manner. 
Mabel Dodge was only partly right to call 
him "a New England spinsterman," and 
Alexander Eliot just plain misunderstands 
when he calls Hartley a "Puritanical 
bachelor' and offers in advance Hartley's 
wry 1942 explanation of why he wasn't 
mamed: 
Everyone's been in love, but I could 
never afford to get married. As a 
matter of fact I don't know what kind of 
husband I'd have made. I know I make 
a good friend. But a husband — 

"Friendship" was a charged and use- 
fully ambiguous word for Hartley as for 
several centuries of gay men, but it was 
not "Puritanical." 

The emotional crisis of Hartley's old 
age occurred in 1936. During the 
previous year, in search of a North 
Atlaniic setting yet starker than Maine, 
he settled on a small island in Mahone 
Bay. off Ihe coast from Lunenburg, Nova 
Scolia. Here he lived with a fishing 
family, the Masons, in whom he found a 
primitive simplicity and strength. It was 
Ihe life on one of the two fringes which 
he had often sought; ralher than the 
urban kaleidoscope of Berlin, Pans, or 
Greenwich Village, this gave the direct 
force of the coast and its unsophisticated 
people. 

If Hartley admired Francis Mason and 
his wife as if they were primilive forces 
themselves, it was their two sons, great 
hulking fishermen, whom he adored He 
even described his pleasure in scrubbing 
Ihe massive back of one of them at bath- 
time. In September 1936, these two 
alone w*ith their young cousin were 
washed from their punt in a storm and 
drowned. As their bodies washed ashore 
"over Ihe next week, mutilated by the sea, 
Hartley watched the community's stoic 
acceptance of Ihe sea's power — and 
grieved. 

"The six remaining years of Hartley's 
life were, in many respects," writes 
Robert Burlmgame, "the denouement of 
this tragedy ." The most stirring prose 
narrative of his life, Cleophas and His 
Own, emerged from this; if it is ever pub- 
lished, men who love men may treasure 
it as we do some of the Calamus 
poems. It concludes: 

I went to the cemetery before I left, I 
told no one. I didn't want anyone 
around — the seagulls swirled over my 
head, the fence blew furtively around 
my body, the white fence showed 
where their estate began and ended, I 
looked down into the earth as far as I 
could and I said, only the seagulls 
hearing — 

'Adelard and Etienne. I loved you 
more than myself. I love you because 
I was equal with you in every way but 
the strength, and il was the strength 
that fortified me — I truly loved you.' 
I did nol wait for plausible replies. I 
could only hear the wind rustling 
among the paper flowers, twisting 
their worn petals east to west. 

But not by prose alone did Hartley 
remember Adelard and Etienne (their 
fictional names) — and von Freyburg, 
Slinkard. Crane, even Masaccio — all 
dead, dead ere their pnme. There were 
poems. There were at least two drawjngs 
and seven paintings of the Mason family, 
all considered studies (or a fishermen s 
chapel which Hartley hoped to erect but 



never did. Of these, the most stirring is 
that ol Adelard reproduced at the begin- 
ning of this article (with his descnption 
from Cleophas and His Own) an 
archaic figure against a passionate red 
background, his shirt open lo expose a 
hairy chest, his black hair smoking high 
over his forehead, and behind his left ear 
a delicate pink flower 

There were other paintings deriving 
from this crisis, too Even more than in 
the "Adelard," Hartley captured the 
archaic power of the place in paintings 
such as the "Northern Seascape, Off the 
Banks. " The natural sacramental power 
he painted in "Give Us This Day" and 
other compositions of seagulls on Ihe 
wing. 

There were also male nudes. In Berlin 
m the early 20s Hartley had done some 
pen and ink drawings of male nudes and 
at least one oil canvas, but no others are 
known until around 1938-42 when he 
drew several senes of nudes and painted 
perhaps a dozen more. Sometimes these 
shade into homoerolic religious themes, 
as in "Chnst Held by the Half-Naked 
Men," but more often they are directly 
sensual, as in "Lifeguard." Of particular 
interest to a modem gay reviewer are the 
"Finnish-Yankee Sauna" and Finnish- 
Yankee Wrestler' (both 1938-39), the first 
a group of (our male nudes and the 
second an individual. Charles Demuth 
had, as early as 1918, dealt with male 
nudes in an erotic "Turkish Bath" water- 
color Hartley was less documentary and 
witty than Demuth in his steambath 
nudes, showing them heroically well- 
proportioned and stationary But their 
emphatic musculature, nipples, and 
genitals made their erotic power ines- 
capable — and so embarassing lo most 
historians Ihat, as William Gerdts has 
written, the males nudes are "perhaps 
the least studied aspect of Hartley's art." 

There were other male portraits as 
well, as if Hartley was finally free to face 
a non-abstracting portraiture — a "young 
hunter," a "sea-dog," and others — all 
large, archaic, and very lender. Some of 
the late drawings of Maine fishermen 
astonishingly offer all-male pielas and 
holy families. A Boault-like "Three 
Friends" offers a naked nsen Christ with 
a prize fighter on his right and clown on 
his left. (Hartley had long been lascin- 
aled with clowns, acrobats, and other 
circus figures, had even wntten a group 
of essays on the circus called Elephants 
and Rhinestones, with epigraphs from 
Havelock Ellis such as "Everything is 
serious, and at the same lime frivolous ") 
One painting, called "Fantasy" or 
"AdelaroVAscending," blends a memory 
of Adelard Ihe drowned with the ascen- 
sion in a rather grotesque way 

Although Hartley's later imagination 
manifested his homoeroticism by these 
vanous means, the most stunning paint- 
ings are generally the late portraits of 
dead seagulls or other sea creatures: 
simplified, powerful, lonely, but with a 
dramatic sense of community in lone- 
liness, of a shared world at the fringe I 
take this to be Hartley's strongest gay 
testament: community al the fringe, 
fellowship along Ihe deserted coast. It's 
one he best articulated in "Gay World." a 
late poem that anticipates Frank O'Hara 
and demonstrates (to quote Ginsberg 
again) Hartley's "naivete which charms 
and teaches all us smartalecks, by 
returning literature lo its norm." 

It is, finally, a gay world, and Ihe more 
so for us because Marsden Hartley lived, 
wrole. and painted 



quotations from Marsden Hartley 
in this article come (rom one of Ihe 
following publications 

Robert Burlmgame, Marsden Hartley: A 
Study ol His Life and Creative Achieve- 
ment, Dissertation | Brawn University), 
1954 

Alexander Eliot, Three Hundred Years 
of American Painting, 1957 

Donald Gallup, Weaving of a Pattern 
Marsden Hartley and Gertrude Stem." 
Magazine of Art, November 1946 

Marsden Hartley. Selected Poems. New 
York, 1945 

Museum of Modem An, Lionel 
Felnlnger and Marsden Hartley New York 
Reprtni Edition, 1966 

For Ihe complete annotation for ihis 
article, write to Michael Lynch in care ol 
The Body Politic 



\# 



c--pELICfou s=5 







atlMliVEJAlZ bWNCHSONWSt 



m* ^Be/urJ/m 




Enjoy the Florida Fun and Sun 
In a friendly, informal 
atmosphere. 

Comfortable rooms and 

apartments. 

Your hosts are Pete and Ed. 

3801 N. Ocean Blvd. 
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33308 
PHONE: (305) 566-4376 



See America. 
Find a friend. 




Body Politic/Oec-Jan 



Our Image 



Vueer doings' 



Attitudes towards homosexuality 
in 19th century Canada 




In the summer ol 1838, just months 
after William Lyon Mackenzie had led 
his farmer 'troops' down Yonge Street 
In their abortive attempt to capture 
Toronto, a series of extraordinary 
events occurred In the city of Toronto, 
culminating in the resignation of the 
Inspector General of Upper Canada, 
George Herchmer Markland. On the 
second of August, Markland appeared 
before the Executive Council to 
answer charges that his habits were 
'derogatory to his character as a 
public officer." He was accused of 
having had Illicit sexual liaisons with 
a number of young men. After five 
days of testimony in which nine 
witnesses were heard, the Inquiry 
proceedings ceased abruptly; three 
weeks later, the Inspector general 
suddenly resigned his post and left 
the city soon after. Markland died in 
obscurity in Kingston twenty-four 
years later, an obscurity so total that 
his burial place cannot be located. No 
known portrait of the man remains. 

The case is importanl because it 
presents the only documentary evi- 
dence, to this writer's knowledge. 

cerning society's attitudes toward 
homosexuality in early nineteenth cen- 
tury Canada. It provides in effect a 
window on the past, though not a 
perfectly clear one. There was. for 
example, no newspaper coverage of the 
inquiry — understandable in that Execu- 
tive Council sessions were not public 
affairs, But there were aiso no news- 
paper references save a brief and 
unexplained notice of Markland's re- 
tirement, though it was common know- 
ledge to many m the small city that an 
inquiry was being held. Had it not been 
lor the preservation at the public 
archives in Ottawa of over 100 pages of 
inquiry transcripts and correspondence, 
Markland s sudden departure from pub- 
lic life would have remained a mystery 

George Herchmer Markland was bom 
about 1790 in Kingston. Upper Canada, 
the son of a prosperous merchant, and 
was educated, along with many other 
scions of what would come to be known 
as the Family Compact', by John 
Strachan at Cornwall. In 1810 Markland 
was described as a good, indeed an 
excellent young man" who wished to 
enter the Anglican ministry. In the same 
year the future attorney general and 
chief |ustice ol Upper Canada, John 



Robert Bums, now an histonan with the 
federal government, first became inter- 
ested m George Markland while working 
tor the Dictionary of Canadian Bio- 
graphy 



Beverly Robinson, described Markland, 
then 20 years old, as "a good fellow, 
and very friendly." but added: "I prefer 
seeing a person at his age rather more 
manly and not quite so feminine [italics 
not mine] either in speech or action " 
Markland did not enter the ministry 
Ounng the War of 1 81 2 he served as an 
ensign in a company of Frontenac 
militia commanded by his uncle, 
Lawrence Herchmer 

In 1820 Markland unsuccessfully con- 
tested the assembly riding of Kingston 
against fellow Tory. Christopher Alex- 
ander Hagerman Within a few weeks 
of his defeat he was appointed to the 
Legislative Council, probably through 
the influence of Strachan. Two years 
later, at age 32, he was made an hon- 
orary member of the Executive Council 
and, in 1827, a regular member. He was 
also appointed to the Provincial Board 
of Education in 1822 Though Markland 
spent several years in England in the mid- 
1 820's. his absence from Upper Canada 
did not slow his advancement in the 
government. In 1828 he was appointed 
secretary receiver of the Upper Canada 
Clergy Corporation which administered 
the leasing of the clergy reserves. In the 
same year he became registrar of King's 
College, chartered in 1827. and was 
later involved with Lieutenant Governor 
Sir John Colborne in the creation of 
Upper Canada College. From 1831 to 
1838 he was also secretary and trea- 
surer of the board responsible for the 
collection of money from the sale of 
school lands, and from 1828 to 1836 he 
served as an arbitrator in the division of 
customs revenue between Upper and 
Lower Canada. In his positions of trust 
and in his roles as legislative and 
executive councillor Markland com- 
pletely supported Strachan's religious 
and educational goals. In 1836. for 
example, he, Peter Robinson, and 
Joseph Wells formed the Executive 
Council which assented to Colborne's 
endowment of 43 Anglican rectories. In 
May 1 833 he reached the apex of his 
career when he was made inspector 
general of public accounts As in his 
previous positions of fiscal respon- 
sibility, he worked diligently and effi- 
ciently, he was, to all appearances, a 
model bureaucrat deserving the emula- 
tion of his fellow officials. 

Markland under 
suspicion 

The first hint that the 48 year old 
Markland's world was about to crumble 
around him came in May 1838 in the 
form of a letter from Margaret Powell, 
housekeeper to the west wing of the 



government building where his office 
was located. She noted in part: "Your 
Movements about this Building in the 
Evenings are watched, and have be- 
come the Subject ol conjecture." Mark- 
land responded immediately: "as to any 
persons watching my movements they 
are al liberty to do so, but will save 
Ihemselves much trouble by coming 
upstairs at any time. They will generally 
find me alone, perhaps occasionally 
with a young man of Ihe band whose 
friends have deposited with me an 
allowance which he sometimes gets 
himself and sometimes sends for when 
he cannot come." Markland had given a 
seemingly reasonable explanation of his 
conduct but the rumours did not cease, 
and soon he was to regret his 
offhanded admission that he did indeed 
meet young soldiers in the evenings at 
his office In mid-June Markland wrote 
lo Lieutenant Governor Sir George 
Arthur concerning the rumours and 
requested that his old teacher and 
patron. Archdeacon John Strachan, be 
asked to form a one-man inquiry into 
Ihe matter. Arthur's secretary John 
Macaulay immediately responded that 
his excellency "while he deeply laments 
the occurrence which has led to this 
application, it does not appear to him 
that an investigation conducted in the 
manner which you propose would be 
likely to produce a satisfactory result." 
Macaulay added "It is therefore in the 



George Markland was alleged to have 
met many of his young men for sex In 
his offices located in the Parliament 
Buildings on Front Street West. Was 
the walk from these buildings along 
the lake front west to the Military 
Garrison an early Toronto cruising 
ground? 



opinion of His Excellency advisable that 
an inquiry should immediately be insti- 
tuted by the Honourable the Executive 
Council into the truth of all the 
allegations connected with the case, 
and have commanded to assure you 
that it will afford the most sincere 
pleasure to His Excellency to learn that 
upon due examination, your character 
is relieved from all imputations now 
unhappily cast upon It." 

On July third the lieutenant governor 
himself received an anonymous letter 
stating that "an everlasting stigma of 
disgrace" would fall upon the present 
government were "the present incum- 
bent of the office of Ihe Inspector 
General . . suffered to remain in 
office." The writer added that Arthur's 
predecessor, Sir Francis Bond Head, 
would never have knowingly tolerated 
such a situation and finally threatened 
that he would "direct a note to the 
Parliament soon " 

With the lieutenant governor deter- 
mined upon an inquiry Markland next 
asked for time to summon witnesses 
from distant points in his defence. The 



The Cast of Characters 

The accused: 

George Markland — Inspector General ol 
Upper Canada 

The officials: 

Sir George Arthur — Lieutenanl Gover- 
nor of Upper Canada (1838-1841). 
His precedessors were: Sir Francis 
Bond Head (1836-1838), and 
Sir John Colborne (1828-1836). 

John Macaulay — secrelary to Lieuten- 
ant Governor Sir George Arthur. 

Archdeacon John Strachan — influential 
member ol the Family Compact', and 
friend, patron and old teacher of 
George Markland 

H.B. Sullivan — member ol the Execu- 
tive Council and confidant of the 
be u ten ant Governor. 

The witnesses 

Margaret Powell — housekeeper at the 
Parliament Buildings 

Hannah Pike — Mrs Powell s servant al 
the Buildings 

Pnvate John Brown — soldier in the 
Queens Rangers and cousin ol 
Hannah Pike 



Richard Hull Thomhill — first clerk in 
Crown Land's Office, 
probably friend of Markland 

James Pearson — a fifer in Ihe band of 
the 24th Regiment of loot. 

William Morrow — a friend of Markland 
who acted as letter carrier and 
messenger between Markland and 
James Pearson in Montreal 

Frederick Creigon Muttlebury — a young 
law student who had once been a 
IrequenI visitor to Markland's home 
and who had been financially support- 
ed by him. 

Henry Hughes — an 16-year-old laborer 
serving in Archdeacon Strachan's 
household who had been befnended 
by Markland. 

Henry Stewart — a Toronto merchant 
whose younger brother had allegedly 
had sexual advances made to him by 
Markland three years before 

Also mentioned: 

Richard Monaghan — a clarinetist in the 
band of the 24th Regiment of foot 

Sergeant Jones — a soldier friend of 
James Pearson and an apparem inter 
mediary with Markland 



4/Our Image 



Dec-Jan/Body Politic 



time was granled though apparently 
grudgingly: Arthur directed his secre- 
tary "to state lhat as the matter has 
unfortunately become generally known. 
no unnecessary delay should be al- 
lowed to take place in bringing it to an 
issue During the next month corres- 
pondence passed between Markland 
and the lieutenant governor's secretary 
Markland continually related his difficul- 
ties in bringing witnesses to Toronto, or 
had them on hand just as Arthur was 
departing to another pari of the 
province. 

Finally on the first of August Arch- 
deacon Strachan received a note 
from Secretary Macau lay "to acquaint 
you that the inquiry into the case ot the 
Honorable Mr Markland will be pro- 
ceeded with tomorrow morning at 
eleven o'clock, at the Executive Council 
Chamber, when His Excellency will 
permit the attendance of yourself and of 
any of the other friends of that 
Gentleman who may desire to be 
present on the occasion." On the same 
day Markland wrote Macaulay stating 
that his witness "a young man of the 
24th Regiment'' was in town and 
requesting thai his affidavit might be 
taken by the mayor rather than before 
the Executive Council, Arthur refused 
the request Markland also wrote a 
memorial to Arthur stressing how he. 
and his father before him. had striven 
for over half a century "lo uphold the 
institutions of the country" and how he 
had worked for almost twenty years on 
the Legislative Council and nine years 
on the Executive Council to further 
those ends. He added: "It would seem 
that I am suspected of what I declare 
myself wholly incapable of even imagin- 
ing, and I unhesitatingly assert my 
innocence, which I can prove. I can 
show, for ample testimony, that mine 
were acts of beneficence, not of wrong, 
that from an early period of my life, 
such acts have produced good, not 
evil." Markland stressed that he had 
quietly and privately helped a number of 
young people, "I can prove that the high 
and the humble have been equally 
objects of my beneficence, and that the 
occasion which has unhappily brought 
about all this anxiety was one equally 
just " Markland maintained, probably 
quite rightly, that entire condemnation 
must follow any manifestation of Your 
Excellency's dissatisfaction. The Public 
will make no distinction, and I throw 
myself fearlessly upon the justice of 
Your Excellency to prevent an indelible 
stain from being fixed upon a family 
that has so long been valued for its 
public zeal and For its private worth." 
Markland concluded his plea: "I have 
dared, with the most profound respect, 
to entreat Your Excellency that such 
ruin, as must ensue, may be averted. 
and trusting to Your Excellency's Jus- 
tice and Kindness . . ." Markiand's final 
effort to forestall the inquiry came to 
nought. Whether by accident or design 
Arthur did not acknowledge receipt of 
the memorial until three o'clock on 
August second, five hours after the 
inquiry had begun. 

Was there a female in 
the room? 

The first witness, appropriately 
enough, was Margaret Powell who. it 
turned out. had written not only 
Markland, but also a member of the 
Executive Council. Robert Baldwin Sul- 
livan It was Sullivan who informed 
Lieutenant Governor Arthur, presuma- 
bly before the anonymous letter arrived. 
Mrs. Powell testified that beginning m 
the late winter Markland had begun 
frequenting the parliament building and 
his office in the evenings, often accom- 
panied by a young army drummer "I 
have seen them meet outside the 
building and afterwards separate — one 
coming to Markiand's office before the 
other." At first Mrs Powell did not 
conned their visits, "but from seeing 
them meet outside, afterwards separate 
and come separately into the House it 
appeared to me that an intimacy 
subsisted between them which I 
thought extraordinary considering the 
relative rank of the parties " On three 
occasions according to Mrs Powell a 



Well, Sir, these are queer 
doing from the bottom to the 
top.' 

Margaret Powell 



person in the uniform of the Band, in a 
white coat, came with the drummer 
Finally, after this behaviour had been 
noted by both her servant and her 
young son, her cunousity got the better 
of her On "the evening of the 23rd May 
about a quarter after 7 o'clock I wished 
to speak to Mr. Markland about the 
fence round the grounds which I was 
anxious should be repaired so as to 
keep out the cattle I first went to the 
door of the office in which Mr. Nation, 
Markiand's clerk, writes and found it 
locked on the inside. I then went to the 
other door which I also found locked on 
the inside I heard voices inside ... Mr. 
Markland was one of the persons 
speaking. They spoke so low that I 
could not distinguish a word. I could 
only hear the murmur of the voices. I 
then heard such movements as con- 
vinced me that there was a female in the 
room, with whom some person was in 
connection I remained there seven or 
eight minutes No doubt remains upon 
my mind as to the nature of the noise I 
heard: and I was sure a female was in 
the room." Mrs. Powell then waited 
downstairs but it was the drummer, not 
a woman, who passed her "in great 
haste" fifteen minutes later; she did 
admit that she could not swear it had 
not been "a female in disguise." 



Hughes came several times in the 
month of May." Hughes was to testify 
later on his own account, Hannah Pike 
also introduced the name of a cousin of 
hers. John Brown, who had related to 
her a peculiar tale concerning Mark- 
land. Brown was to be the next witness. 
Mrs. Powell's servant concluded her 
testimony by saying she had recently 
"seen a drummer in Town in the 
uniform of the 24th Regiment in the 
company ot two men of Mr Markland. 
He is not the person we used to call the 
drummer. I never saw the person which 
I saw this morning visit Mr. Markland." 
Markiand's reason for not wanting his 
witness from Montreal to testify before 
the Executive Council must now have 
been becoming obvious to its members. 

Private John Brown of the Queen's 
Rangers described his encounters with 
Markland thus: "one evening in the 
month of'February (sic) ... 1 met a man 
in the Yard He had a cloak on. and I 
afterwards ascertained that he is Mr 
Markland. On this occasion he laid his 
hand on my arm as if he Knew me, and 
leaned on my arm. I saw that he looked 
like a gentleman. And I did not under- 
stand his behaviour I put my other 
hand upon my bayonet and Kept it 
there. He walked with me leaning on my 
arm from the Parliament House up to 
the street turning up to Government 
House [to Simcoe Street, a distance of 
about one block]." Brown went on to 
describe another encounter a night or 
two later. "Mr. Maryland met me again. 
He then laid his hand upon my left 



Our Image 

also observed something 
extraordinary in his manner 
of taking my hand and keep- 
ing it in his own for several 
minutes when I would allow 
him... On one occasion I was 
dining with Mr. Markland 
atone when I was much 
ashamed at Mr. Markland 
making the following obser- 
vation: 'you have the most 
perfect figure of any one in 
town. Several people have 
remarked it." 
Frederick Muttlebury 



she had not actually seen anything of 
the kind I recommended to Mrs. Powell 
to state to that effect and that any 
reports she had originated were 
founded merely on suspicion." Thornhill 
tried to explain to Mrs. Powell that 
' all the facts stated by her did not 
amount to positive proof of Mr Mark- 
land's criminality and would not be 
considered as doing so in a Court of 
Justice." It must be remembered that 
the Executive Council could inquire into 
virtually any aspect of government, such 
as the behaviour of its members, but it 
was not by any means a court of justice, 
nor did it in theory function as one. It 
was Thorn hill's opinion that Mrs. 
Powell appeared much distressed at 
the prospect-ot an investigation & she 
seemed to wish the matter at an end, 




Archdeacon (later Bishop) John 
Strachan, the most powerful mem- 
ber of the ruling elite of Upper 
Canada known as the 'Family 
Compact', was a friend and former 
teacher of George Markland. Several 
times throughout Markiand's career, 
Strachan tried to use his influence to 
extricate Markland from difficulties. 
Do we know all there is to know about 
Bishop Strachan? 



Lieutenant Governor Sir George 
Arthur, recently-appointed head of the 
colonial administration In Upper 
Canada, in 1838 conducted the execu- 
tive inquiry into George Markiand's 
behavior. 




Immediately afterwards Markland came 
down the stairs, also "in great haste . 
and Mrs. Powell spoke to him: "I wished 
him to see that I observed him." She 
added' "I made the following observa- 
tion which I am sure Mr, Markland will 
remember Well Sir these are queer 
doings from the bottom to the top.' " 

Mrs. Powell also testified that when 
prior to May twenty-third, she men- 
tioned Markiand's peculiar evening 
office visits to R.B. Sullivan he "made 
light of it and said it was all nonsense." 
It was not until Sullivan saw Markiand's 
reply to Mrs Powell's warning letter that 
he decided any action was necessary. 
He first spoke to John Strachan as a 
friend of Markland, and then, finding 
that rumours were spreading around 
the city, felt it his duty to report the 
situation to the lieutenant governor. 
Exactly how the rumours spread, or 
whether they were but the rekindling of 
earlier stories about Markland, will 
probably never be known. However, it 
does seem that it was not so much Mrs. 
Powell's charges themselves as the 
evidence in Markiand's own handwrit- 
ing thai he had had young male visitors 
at his office that set the inquiry into 
motion 

The inquiry's second witness. Hannah 
Pike, was Mrs. Powell's servant and 
helped with chores in the parliament 
building She corroborated much of the 
evidence of her mistress concerning 
Markiand's evening visitors, including 
the point lhat he locked his office doors 
during such visits, and added another 
dimension to the charges. She men- 
tioned that a young man who used to 
live with Dr. Strachan named Henry 



shoulder and walked with [it) in that 
position He talked about where I came 
from, what regiment I belonged to, 
whether I would like to face [William 
Lyon] Mackenzie & other questions of 
an indifferent nature. He walked with 
me down to the turn of York Street and I 
went home to my quarters at the 
Lawyers Hall [Osgoode Hall where some 
soldiers were quartered briefly following 
the Rebellion]." Brown gave as his 
opinion that he "thought Mr. Markland 
must have been out ot his mind from 
the familiar manner of his walks with me 
and leaning on my arm " However. 
Brown was quick to add that Markland 
"never made use of improper lan- 
guage in my company." With Brown's 
statement completed the Executive 
Council adjourned for the day presum- 
ably to mull over the statements they 
had heard. 

The first witness on the next day 
Friday August third, was a young 
member of Toronto's government 
clique. Richard Hull Thornhill, first clerk 
in the Crown Lands Office. Thornhill 
stated that he had been asked by 
Markland to speak to Mrs. Powell, 
probably following her letter to the 
inspector general, At Markiand's re- 
quest Thornhill had "called upon Mrs. 
Powell and slated to her that if she 
would state to Dr. Strachan that she 
knew nothing against Mr Markland 
further than from report, the matter 
might so end ; otherwise lhat Mr. 
Markland would be obliged to proceed 
with an investigation. I asked Mrs. 
Powell if she had actually seen any- 
thing criminal in Mr. Markiand's con- 
duct, and understanding from her that 



but she would not make any statement 
other than a detail of the facts at first 
alleged." Thornhill also stated that he 
knew Mrs Powell quite well and could 
not see what would motivate her to 
make a false accusation. 

The boys in the band 

The only other witness called before 
the Executive Council that Friday was 
the young soldier whom Markland had 
summoned from Montreal James Pear- 
son, a fifer in the band of the 24th 
Regiment of foot. Markland had obvi- 
ously intended that Pearson's testimony 
completely refute the charges made by 
Mrs. Powell, but the young soldier, 
while sympathetic to Markiand's plight, 
had no desire to share the opprobrium 
directed at the inspector general. Pear- 
son stated that he first heard of 
Markland from a Sergeant Jones who 
"had mentioned to me that Mr. Mark- 
land had expressed his willingness to 
purchase my discharge [from the army]. 
He said that Mr. Markland had noticed 
me walking with him Sergeant Jones 
one Sunday evening. I remember pas- 
sing Mr Markland, in the Sunday 
evening alluded to and I was then in 
company with Sergeant Jones and 
Sergeant Jones told me that Mr. 
Markland was the person who pur- 
chased Sewell's discharge (he belonged 
to the 15th Regiment)." When Markland 
and Pearson first met a little later 
Markland mentioned the purchase and I 
told [him] that I was desirous to leave 
the regiment and go back to my family 
which was at Kingston . . After this 
conversation Mr Markland said that he 
would see me perhaps some other time 



Body Politic/Dec-Jan 



Our Image/5 



Our Image 



and lei me hear more about it 

Pearson in describing later meetings 
stated: "I used lo see him on the 
evenings when I was coming down from 
the Garrison [west ol the city]. One 
evening we walked together on the 
wharf for 15 or 20 minutes. I cannot say 
whether or not Mr. Markland took my 
arm At this meeting Markland told 
Pearson that it I had any thing 
particular to say to him I might come 
down to his office He gave me good 
advice and told me ot several young 
men whose discharges he had pur- 
chased He told me I was to come to the 
back of the building and in the 
evening ." Several evenings later, ac- 
cording to Pearson, he met Markland at 
the rear of the parliament building and 
spent 10 or 15 minutes in his office 
during which "we had some conversa- 
tion relating to my leaving Ihe regi- 
ment." At Markland's invitation he 
visited again several evenings later but 
could not remember if Markland had 
locked the doors. Pearson visited 
"Irequently" after this but never stayed 
"longer than 15 minutes" and "never 
came into the building with any other 
person than Mr Markland." Pearson 
could not recall if he had been at 
Markland's office on the evening of the 
23rd of May when Mrs. Powell alleged 
to have heard "noises." Nor did he ever 
see the inspector general "with any 
other of the band or the soldiers of the 
regiment." 

While much of Pearson's testimony 
was ambivalent, some of it proved 
harmful to Markland's case. Pearson 
stated that Markland "never received 
any money for me and he never gave 
me any," a direct contradiction to 
Markland's letter to Mrs. Powell. Pear- 
son also introduced a new figure "a 
young man named Monaghan of the 
Band" for whom Markland had also 
offered to purchase his discharge 
Pearson denied ever knowing if 
Monaghan had visited Markland at his 
office. Pearson described Monaghan as 
"younger than me, he plays a clarinet in 
the Band. Monaghan has light brown 
hair He always wore a white coat — the 
unllorm of the Band." In the final part of 
his testimony Pearson slated that while 
stationed at Bytown (Ottawa) he had 
received from the hands of Mr Morrow 
a letter from Markland "containing 
good advice to me and renewing his 
promises and telling me to take care of 
myself " While Morrow was in Bytown a 
second letter arrived from the inspector 
general asking that the first one be 
returned. Pearson testified that he gave 
the letter to Morrow to take back to 
Markland and that he received only one 
further letter from Markland, requesting 
him to come to Toronto to testify. 
Pearson ended his testimony by declar- 
ing that he no longer had any of 
Markland's letters R B. Sullivan of the 
Executive Council immediately after 
adjournment wrote to Markland: "The 
Council desire to see, if you have no 
object ion, a Letter trom you to James 
Pearson, which appears to have been 
returned. Also any other Correspon- 
dence with him which you have in Your 
possession, particularly the Answer to 
the above Letter.'' There is no record of 
a reply from Markland 

The first witness called on Saturday 
was the bearer of the mysterious letter 
from Markland to Pearson, William 
Morrow. His version of the exchange of 
letters differed trom that of Pearson 
According to Morrow he had been 
asked by Markland to see Pearson for 
the specific purpose of returning to 
Markland a letter then in Pearson's 
possession. Sergeant Jones, through 
whom Pearson met Markland, appears 
again in the testimony, at first Morrow 
denied having delivered a letter from 
Markland to the sergeant, but then 
abruptly admitted having done so 
stating. "My recollection was confused 
when l made the first statement." The 
significance ot the role of Jones 
remains unclear as does the importance 
of whether Morrow took Pearson the 
original Markland letter or a second one 
asking for its relurn The question, at 
any rate, was sufficiently important for 



Pearson to be called again to testify 
briefly. The young bandsman once 
more swore that it was the original letter 
which Morrow delivered, not one asking 
for its return. If the original letter from 
Markland contained material which 
reflected upon the inspector generals 
sexual preferences, Pearson would of 
course have wished to indicate that he 
returned it immediately. Possibly Mor- 
row, as a friend and confidant of 
Markland, hoped to allay the Executive 
Councillors* suspicions regarding the 
letter's contents by testifying that 
Pearson had had the letter for some 
time and had not felt its contents 
warranted its immediate return. The 
only thing that can be said with 
certainty is that either Pearson or 
Morrow was lying under oath 

The most perfect figure 
in town' 

The last witness ot the day was 
Frederick Creighton Muttlebury who 
explained how he had first met Mark- 
land in Toronto when he was eighteen 
and about to proceed to Quebec to 
become a clerk in a mercantile lirm 
Markland convinced him to study law at 
Toronto and offered to advance him the 
money he would require. Muttlebury 
accepted and soon was boarding 
outside the city, but at Markland's 
expense. The young law student stated 
that he never boarded with Markland, 
but did dine with him "about three 
times a week." This situation lasted for 
about a year during the course of which 



Sir: 

Can it be possible that the 
Government will continue to 
retain in office a man with 
such an indelible stain upon 
his character as the Honour- 
able!! George H. Markland!... 

What an everlasting 
stigma and disgrace it will 
be upon the Government of 
this province... 

Toronto 



House at his request According to 
Muttlebury, Colborne spoke to him of 
the matter Irequently . . he recom- 
mended me to keep the letters, but not 
show them and on the day before he left 
this place he told me that he would take 
an opportunity of informing the Chief 
Justice [John Beverley Robinson] of the 
whole transaction and he recom- 
mended my Mother to call upon Mr. 
[William] Allan (a member of the 
Executive Council and Toronto's most 
wealthy merchant-entrepreneur] and to 
show him the letters, which I afterwards 
understood she accordingly did." 
Muttlebury testified that Colborne made 
no comment regarding the letters other 
than agreeing he had been correct to 
end the relationship, nor did Muttlebury 
know if Markland had ever tried to 
explain his conduct. Muttlebury's final 
comment was that Markland "never 
attempted or proposed in the remotest 



conduct." 

Margaret Powell returned next to 
testify that James Pearson is not the 
person who I have in my examination 
stated to have been in Mr Markland's 
office on the evening of the 23rd May . . 
The man I saw with Mr Markland was 
about as tall as Pearson but much 
Stouter He wore the same uniform he 
wore a sword. His hair was very light — 
as light as hair ever is naturally. He had 
very light eyebrows, and not a pleasant 
expression of countenance ." She stated 
that she had never seen Pearson with 
Markland at all Hannah Pike gave 
essentially the same evidence and 
added that she had obtained the name 
James Pearson from another member of 
the 24th'Regiment by describing the 
young man she had seen on the 
twenty-third of May She gave this as 
her only reason for saying that the 
individual was in fact James Pearson. 
As the Executive Council adjourned for 
the day its members must have realized 
that Markland had known Pearson was 
not the man whom Mrs Powell and 
Hannah Pike claimed to have seen It is 
the only logical explanation for his 
effort to keep Pearson from appearing 
at the enquiry. During the day's tes- 
timony R. B. Sullivan wrote Markland 
asking "if you think it right to state 
whether or not a person belonging to 
the 24th Regiment of very light com- 
plexion and light hair was in the habit of 
visiting you — whether he was at your 
office on the evening of the 23rd May 
last, and if so, what was his name, and 



Toronto in 1838 had a population of 
only 12,500, and would have been the 
kind of place where rumours spread 
uncommonly fast and anonymity was 
virtually Impossible. Incorporated as 
the first city In Upper Canada only 
four years before, Toronto was the 
first seat of the colonial government 
and a centre of mercantile activity. 

Visitors varied in their opinions. 
Mrs. Anne Jameson, an English- 
woman who wrote about an unhappy 
stay In Upper Canada, called Toronto, 
"most strangely mean and melan- 
choly. A little, ill-built town... some 
government offices, built of staring 
red brick, in the most tasteless, vulgar 
style imaginable..." Charles Dickens, 
on the other hand, thought the town 
"full ot fife and motion, bustle, 
business and Improvement." He 
added, however, "the wild and rabid 
Toryism of Toronto is, f speak 
seriously, appalling " 




Muttlebury "observed Mr. Markland's 
manner towards me gradually 
change[d]. He looked at me in a Kind of 
smirking way I did not like . . I also 
observed something extraordinary in his 
manner of taking my hand and keeping 
it in his own for several minutes when I 
would allow him. The first time he took 
my hand in this manner was in the 
street, when he held it for some time. I 
did not like it but noticed the same 
thing on other occasions. On one 
occasion I was dining with Mr Markland 
alone when I was much ashamed at Mr. 
Markland making the following observa- 
tion: 'You have the most perfect figure 
of any one in town Several people have 
remarked it.' " These developments, 
coupled with the contents of letters 
from Markland to Muttlebury (letters not 
described nor now in existence but then 
shown to the Executive Council) deter- 
mined Muttlebury to break off his 
relationship with the inspector general 
Muttlebury stated quite emphatically 
that at the time he did not suspect 
Markland ot "criminal intentions." "I 
had scarcely any conception at the time 
of the possibility of a crime of the 
nature which afterwards suggested 
itself to me" was the way in which the 
agile law student exculpated himself 
from any possible tinge of mutual guilt 
But the most extraordinary aspect of 
Muttlebury's testimony was the calm 
statement that he had shown the letters 
from Markland to the then lieutenant 
governor. Sir John Colborne Colborne 
had asked Muttlebury why he had 
broken off with Markland and why Muttle- 
bury had left the letters at Government 



manner anything improper or criminal 
to me" and added to protect himself: "if 
he had done so, I should not have 
contented myself with withdrawing from 
his acquaintance and protection." So 
ended Saturday's testimony, On Sunday 
John Macaulay, Arthur's secretary but 
not a member of the Executive Council, 
wrote privately to his wife "The investi- 
gation of Mr Markland's case is now 
going on. It is rumored that he cannot 
succeed in clearing the matter up. ..." 
On Monday August sixth the inquiry 
continued with the testimony of Henry 
Hughes, an eighteen year old labourer 
who had served in John Strachan's 
household for three years. Hughes had 
come to know Markland when, as a 
schoolboy, he passed the inspector 
general's home "three or four times a 
day" and afterwards "when I went to his 
home on messages from the Arch- 
deacon " Hughes testified that "Mr 
Markland used to ask me when he met 
me going to & returning from school 
what my intentions were, as to my 
future trade, and he recommended me 
to adopt that of a carpenter in 
preference to the Engineering business 
[probably laboring] I have been about 
twice at Mr Markland's office at 7 o( 
clock in the evening . One time I 
came in at the front door and another 
time at the back door " Hughes admit- 
ted it did appear strange to me to be 
asked to Mr Markland's office; no body 
else treated me so," but added that 
Markland s ' conversation always was 
relating to my affairs [He] never said 
or proposed any thing improper to me, 
and he gave me good advice as to my 



whether you would desire to have his 
attendance in Toronto, for the purpose 
of answering the circumstances alleged 
against you." Though his reply has not 
been preserved Markland apparently 
mentioned a William Monaghan as 
possibly fitting the description for 
Sullivan wrote again the same day He 
and the council desired further informa- 
tion concerning Monaghan's physical 
appearance "and whether any other or 
what persons answering the description 
of a person in the uniform of a drummer 
or bugler of the 24th Regiment was in 
the habit of visiting you or of coming to 
your office" Sullivan ended with the 
words: "The Executive Council do not 
wish to press these questions upon you 
They are asked with a view of obtaining 
satisfactory explanations of the facts 
alleged, but the information is such as 
may or may not come from you at your 
discretion " There is no record of 
Markland's reply. 

The only witness heard on Tuesday, 
August seventh, and the last whose 
testimony is available, was a Toronto 
merchant, Henry Stewart, who de- 
scribed an incident which had occurred 
about 1835 between his brother John 
Stewart (in 1636 a merchant at Paris, 
Upper Canada) and Markland Henry 
Stewart testified that he "understood 
trom my brother that Mr. Markland 
sometimes walked with him and 
showed great interest in his welfare and 
made very kind enquiries concerning 
his future prospects." One evening. 
however, according to Henry Stewart, 
John told him that he had met Mr 
Markland, who asked him to walk wilh 



6/Our Image 



Dec -Jan/Body Politic 



Our Image 



him, that they had walked up towards 
the Garrison in the dusk of evening, that 
Mr Markland had leaned upon his 
shoulder and had put his hand in an 
indecent manner on my brother's 
person, and that he (my Brother) im- 
mediately kicked Mr Markland m the 
body and ran away The Executive 
Council ordered that John Stewart be 
requested to appear "with as little delay 
as possible.'' He apparently did come to 
Toronto for his travel expenses of 
£4.120 are listed in the council minutes 
some months later, but his testimony, if 
it was given, has not been preserved. 

Resignation, disgrace, 
obscurity 

On August 28. his career in shambles, 
Markland wrote to Arthur's secretary 
stating that he was "desirous of 
resigning ... tor reasons connected 
with my own private affairs which would 
be benefitted by my residence in the 
vicinity of Kingston." Markland also 
asked for a leave of absence until 
November first. Arthur's scribbled 
comment on the letter was to "inform 
Mr. M. in reply that it has been notified 
to me that the Proceedings w(hic]h 
were instituted before the Ex[ecutive] 
Council were stayed in consequence of 
his intimation to retire from the office of 
Inspector Gen(era]l — that leave will be 
granted to him until the 1st October on 
w[hic]h day his retirement will be 
notified." Markland returned to Kings- 
ton to live in virtual isolation. In the 
following month, after being pressed by 



'I heard voices inside... I 
then heard such movements 
as convinced me that there 
was a female in the room, 
with whom some person 
was in connection.' 

Margaret Powell 



friends and associates The passing of 
his peers in the Family Compact elicited 
glowing eulogies from reform and 
conservative newspapers alike, but 
Markland's death was noted in the 
Kingston Daily British Whig and in the 
Toronto Globe by identical two-line 
obituaries. This writer has not even 
been able to discover Markland's final 
resting place. If his contemporaries 
attempted to bury and forget Markland. 
his career, and its eclipse, they were 
almost completely successful. 

But if little can be said with certainty 
about Markland as an individual, it is 
possible to speculate upon the views of 
ins fellows toward homosexuality. On 
first glance the Markland case would 
seem to indicate that there was no 
clandestine homosexual community or 
group in Toronto in the 1830s. Only a 
single lonely individual bumbling from 
one unhappy encounter to another. Yet 
it must be remembered that Markland 
was about 48 years of age in 1838 and, 
if the circumstancial evidence is accu- 
rate, had very particular sexual prefer- 
ences — preferences which by their 
very nature could not be met by any one 




his fellow officers, he resigned his 
commission as a colonel in the Fron- 
tenac militia. He had resigned from the 
Executive Council in 1836 and was not 
re-appointed a legislative councillor in 
1841. He never again held any public 
office. 

Markland's problems did not end with 
his virtual banishment. In 1841 a 
legislative committee discovered that 
Markland as treasurer of the school 
lands fund was in default almost £5,000 
for the period 1 831-38 He did not deny 
responsibility for the deficit: the gov- 
ernment was reimbursed through occa- 
sional payments and provisions in his 
will. The exact circumstances surround- 
ing his defalcations from the school 
lands account remain unknown He may 
have been guilty of no more than 
careless accounting, a common fault 
among nineteenth century Canadian 
officials. In the mid-1840s Markland 
barely escaped civil suit by the Council 
of King's College tor his role in using 
college funds for the erection of Upper 
Canada College. Strachan intervened 
on his behalf and convinced the council 
that Markland had merely been acting 
on the orders of Sir John Colbome 

George Herchmer Markland lived on 
in obscurity in Kingston until his death 
In 1 862. 24 years after his resignation. 
Much of his life remains a mystery. He 
was. for example, married . there is an 
obituary of his wife in an 1847 
newspaper But it is not known who she 
was. whether they were married in 1838. 
or if there were any children Today, 
only a few of Markland's letters remain, 
scattered in the correspondence of his 



individual for any length of time. And 48 
was considered much older in 1838 
than it is today. In his testimony young 
James Pearson described one individual 
as "an elderly man and married. He is 
upwards of thirty." Markland's evening 
walks near the parliament building and 
the number of his encounters indicate 
to this student of human nature that 
perhaps the composition of society in 
1838 differed little if any from that of 
today. Finally, one must consider the 
role of Sergeant Jones as an inter- 
mediary between Markland and Pearson 
and the other young soldiers, as well as 
the whole question of the purchasing 
of discharges from the army. If Mark- 
land was. as he claimed, merely the 
private patron who enjoyed helping 
others, then Sergeant Jones can be 
seen in the same light. It does, however, 
seem strange that a career soldier 
would actively work to deplete the 
forces under his command in a period 
of border raids out of a sense of 
philanthropy. If Markland was guilty as 
charged, then most probably the 
sergeant shared in that guilt. Garrisons 
were always considered an integral part 
of the social life of any nearby 
community; this social tie would be but 
another facet of the interrelationship. 

The severity of stigma: 
class differences 

To examine the attitudes of^he 
witnesses to homosexuality we must 
divide them into two groups according 
to their attitudes to Markland: an- 
tagonistic and sympathetic. Of 'he first 



group little need be said Mrs Powell 
claimed to have no ill will toward 
Markland; she simply felt it her duty to 
society to expose what she understood 
as his behaviour The motivation of the 
witnesses sympathetic to Markland was 
somewhat more complex. Time and 
again they offered bits of testimony 
which could be construed as incriminat- 
ing but always stressed that Markland 
never proposed anything improper to 
them as individuals. Each was torn 
between the desire to support Mark- 
land's claim of innocence, and the 
overwhelming spectre of being as- 
sociated with Markland if he were found 
'guilty'. Only Henry Hughes, the ex- 
servant of John Strachan. unreservedly 
supported Markland's plea The rest 
made certain that if Markland fell, they 
would not go with him; at worst they 
would be viewed as having been naive, 
and used by the inspector general. The 
fear of the sympathetic witnesses is 
almost tangible and it gives one some 
indication of the severity of the stigma 
attached to homosexuality in Toronto in 
the 1 830s. 

The attitudes of other public figures 
toward Markland in particular and 
toward homosexuality in general are 
somewhat more difficult to assess. If. as 
Muttlebury testified, definite evidence of 
Markland's sexual proclivities was avail- 
able in 1836. why did the inquiry not 
occur until 1838? Arthur appears to 
have pressed Markland relentlessly, 
refusing his every effort to forestall or 
avoid the inquiry. It coufd be argued 
that as a career officer in the British 
Army Arthur had a special reason for 
wanting to end the type of conduct of 
which Markland stood accused. Yet Sir 
John Colborne was more the profes- 
sional soldier than Arthur, serving as he 
did throughout the Napoleonic Wars 
and even commanding a regiment at 
Waterloo. It is possible that Markland 
was in fact sacrificed in the aftermath of 
the Rebellion by a lieutenant governor 
desirous of showing the populace that 
the British government was as capable 
of punishing Tories as it had been of 
suppressing RebBls. The question re- 
mains as to why no official action was 
taken against Markland in 1836. It could 
simply be that the letters to Muttlebury 
did not constitute sufficient evidence to 
warrant action. 

The reactions of some who saw the 
letters seem to make this unlikely. It is 
possible also that as long as there were 
no widespread rumours of illicit ac- 
tivities, no punitive action would be 
taken. Colborne did counsel Muttlebury 
to keep the letters — for possible future 
use? — but not to show them to 
anyone. Arthur also cited the rumours 
as the main reason for insisting on a 
speedy and complete inquiry. Even R. B. 
Sullivan tried to laugh off Mrs. Powell's 
accusations until he saw Markland's 
own letter admitting to having young 
male visitors at his office. It is the 
speculation of this writer that Upper 
Canada's high ranking government 
officers did not object to Markland's 
alleged homosexuality, but rather to its 
becoming publicly known. Put crudely, 
such activity was, if not countenanced, 
at least tacitly accepted unless done in 
the streets where it frightened the 
horses. If this speculation is accurate it 
indicates a somewhat more liberal 
attitude toward homosexuality on the 
part of Upper Canada's educated gov- 
erning class. Considering the horror 
with which the inquiry witnesses viewed 
the accusation against Markland, his 
peers could even be said to have 
exhibited some mercy. Markland. after 
all, was not turned over to the criminal 
courts for prosecution of a felony as, it 
appears, he could well have been. 
Instead the inquiry was simply halted in 
return for his resignation, and he was 
allowed to retire, in comfort, if in 
disgrace. The facts, as they are known 
today, are too few to allow one to do 
more than speculate on possible moti- 
vations and attitudes O 





Body Poimc/Dec-Jan 



Some further comments: 

1. Sodomy laws George Markland, and 
anyone incriminated along with him, 
would have been in serious trouble if the 
case had proceeded to the courts In 

1838 the statutes of the Imperial (British) 
Parliament had jurisdiction in Upper 
Canada. The penalty for sodomy/ 
buggery at the time was death. 

2. The Homosexual as scapegoat. The 
atmosphere in Toronto in the summer of 
1838 must have been extremely tense. A 
rebellion had been quashed, although 
guerilla-type activity was still going on in 
other parts of the province. Two of the 
rebels had been publicly hanged in 
Toronto only three months before. 
Lieutenant Governor Sir Franos Bond 
Head had been replaced by Sir 

Arthur because he had been unable lo, 
deal effectively with the discontent 
Arthur had to show some willingness to 
deal with complaints in order to defuse 
a hostile situation. The reformers would 
have been too closely watched to do 
anything but nip cautiously at Tory 
heels. The feeding of rumour mills and 
the writing of anonymous letters con- 
cerning the most vulnerable of the 
Family Compact (a man too careless or 
too arrogant to be discreet) would have 
been a logical tactic at this juncture 

Homosexuals throughout history have 
been sacrificed for political expediency 
by the creation of "sex scandals" These 
scandals have merely capitalized on an 
extensive culturally conditioned loathing 
of homosexual acts in order to discredit 
an individual, and conveniently in the 
process, 3 government, a party, a 
movement, a clique. It is a theme in gay 
history deserving greater exploration. 

3. Pre-psychiatric nomenclature. For the 
first time we have some idea what homo- 
sexual acts were called in tgth-century 
Canada. The references by witnesses 
are consistently in terms of "crime" or 
"criminal conduct," or else a distasteful 
circumlocution ("an ugly look about it") 
The concepts of sickness and perversion 
were to come later 

4 Class differences Witnesses seemed 
as aghast at the example of a gentleman 
("a man of his stature") fraternizing with 
boys from a lower class as they were by 
the sexual implications: "an intimacy 
extraordinary considering the relative 
rank of the parties" This points up the 
sharpness of class inequalities and the 
acute awareness of them at the time. 

II was almost incomprehensible that a 
member of the upper class could be- 
friend a drummer boy. Was Markland 
also being tried implicitly for too blatantly 
crossing class boundaries? A greater 
awareness ot the social and political con- 
text would seem to be crucial to a full 
understanding of the implications ot the 



Our Image/7 



Our Image 




The most important filmmaker in Europe 
nghl now. and possibly in the whole 
Western world, is a German, a radical, 
and a gay (not necessarily in that order, 
or in any order at all) Hainer Werner 
Fassbinder 

Many gay activists apparently do not 
agree, judging from the lively debate that 
has appeared in the gay press about 
Fassbinder's 1975 "gay" film. Fox and 
his Friends The debate has ranged in 
quality from intelligent analysis o) the 
film's political and cultural context to 
emotional tirades of an astonishing 
ferocity 

I would like to explain why I think 
Fassbinder is so important. 

Basically, its a function of his potential 
rather than what he's actually accom- 
plished, of his value as a model. Film 
scholars, are learning more and more 
these days about how the movies have 
always supported the structures of 
domination with every image and sound 
As a result, a whole new generation of 
radical filmmakers are searching for a 
revolutionary film language thai will chal- 
lenge and counleract this traditional 
complicity Unfortunately, most of these 
filmmakers have revolutionized them- 
selves right out of an audience 

Fassbinder is one of the very few of 
these radicals who have kept them- 
selves in contact with a wide popular 
audience And in fact, in recent years he 
has expanded that contact 

If Fassbiner cannot come up with a 
model of a radical cinema that is truly 
popular {or a popular cinema that is truly 
radical) then perhaps no one can, In any 
case. I think that a radical popular 
cinema is what the director of Fox and 
his Friends seems to be on the verge of 
finding. 



II The Lumpen and the 
Piss elegant 

By now, many readers ot the gay 
press are familiar with the simple, almost 
one-dimensional parable that is the basis 
of the film. It is the story of a rather 
unattractive young carnival worker, Fox. 
whom we see in the first minutes of the 
film watching his lover get hauled off to 
jail, tricking with an elegant antique 
dealer with a Mercedes, and winning 
$200,000 in a lottery The trick intro- 
duces him to a circle of pretentious 
middle-class gays where he finds a lover. 
Eugen, and the love and attention he 
craves But of course they love him for 
his money and his bufch proletarian 
image, not for himself Fox doesn't care 
He submits to exploitation and ultimate 
destruction at their hands with a com- 
bination of childish innocence and cynical 
masochism. 

As far as losers go, Fox is not a par- 
licuiarty appealing one, and his victim- 
izes are excessively vicious. All the same 
Fassbinder orchestrates a pathos that is 
profound and direct. In fact, it is so direct 
that viewers expecting the so-called 
subtleties of bourois dramaturgy (as in 
Sunday, Bloody Sunday) find it 
slrangely repelling The pathos is not a 
little ennched by the presence of 
Fassbinder himself in the role ot Fox Hjs 
presence adds a personal dimension to 
this portrait of an archetypal victim and 
strengthens lis passionate statement of 
despair 

Any film touching upon the subject ol 
homosexuality is bound to be con- 
troversial — we've been denied the nght 
of self -expression , the nght 10 see our- 
setves on the screen for so long that we 
expect every gay film that comes along 




Thomas Waugh teaches film ai 
Concordia University in Montreal 




All: Fear Eats the Soul', 1973. engine Mlra 
and El Hedi Ben Salem as Jane Wyman 
and Rock Hudson. Fassbinder's master- 
piece: love plus politics. 



All That Heaven Allows.' Douglas Slrk, 
195S. Wealthy widow Jane Wyman and 
gardener Rock Hudson In a classical 
"weeple". Fassbinder reworks the story 

Into All 20 years late r_ 



to make up lor it all. Which, of course, is 
impossible No film can meet such 
expectations 

And Fassbinder's refusal to be a 
spokesperson for the gay movement is 
undeniably frustrating It's disappoinling 
that the first post-Stonewall gay artist of 
major international stature should refuse 
to be our artist as emphatically as his 
pre-Stonewall predecessors: Forster, 
Genet, Williams, Pasolini, Visconti and 
the rest. 

But Fassbinder's refusal to be type- 
cast as The Gay Filmmaker is adamant. 
Only five or six of the twenty-five odd 
films he has made (an impressive 
achievement for a filmmaker whose 
thirtieth birthday was this year) touch 
upon gay themes or include gay charac- 
ters And, although most exhibit a dis- 
cernible homo-erotic or gay cultural 
sensibility, only two are set in a gay 
milieu. 

This refusal must of course be respec- 
ted We must accept Fassbinder's lack of 
interest in those compact ideological 
statements which we often demand of 
our artists but rarely get. just as we musl 
accept, for example, the nghts of gays 
who choose to work within a political 
framework outside of the gay move- 
ment proper 

Certainly one of the tenets of gay liber- 
ation must be the importance, indeed the 
urgency, of speaking out on all con- 
temporary issues, not simply those that 
affect us directly I would like to show 
Fassbinder is in agreement with this way 
of looking at gay liberation, and has 
spoken out powerfully and passionately 
on the ma/or issues confronting our 
sooety 

Fassbinder is not the first gay film- 
maker who has seen the role o' the 



individual m modem society in terms of 
victimization and humiliation — both 
Pasolini and Lindsay Anderson have 
seen things the same way — but 
Fassbinder's images of victims who have 
internalized the oppression of the outside 
world are especially sharp. The intermin- 
able final sequence of Fox provides per- 
haps the bleakest of those images — the 
body of the suicide lying like a piece of 
carrion in the gleammgly sterile setting of 
a Munich subway station, plundered by 
kids and humedly bypassed by two of 
his fnends Yes, it's one more gay 
suicide, but I think that Fassbinder does 
it differently. 

Fassbinder's most persuasive detrac- 
tor from within the gay movement 
(Andrew Britton in the British journal. 
Gay Left. No 3i has accused him of 
using the gay milieu m Fox as a meta- 
phoncal setting for his theme of exploi- 
tation within personal relationships. And 
of using gay relationships as an image of 
oppression in general, thus confirming 
negative gay stereotypes and senously 
insulting us to boot While Fassbinder is 
admittedly answerable for the effect of 
any one of his films. Bntton's accusa- 
tion must surely be qualified in the light 
of Fassbinder's many other films which 
deal with similar themes in other 
settings 

Fassbinder is certainly entitled to 
recreate m his work, the gay world as he 
knows it — that cunous border zone 
withm the gay community where the 
lumpen runs inlo the piss-elegant (a 
zone best explored on this side ot the 
Atlantic by Warhol /Momssey a tew years 
ago) I don t go along with those who 
would prohibit gay artists from washing 
the gay community s dirty linen in public 
There s already enough censorship m the 



But to return lo Fassbinder, no doubt 
some of the misunderstanding of his 
work is due to the vaganes of the disln- 
bution system Fassbinder's North 
American distributors have seriously dis- 
torted our sense of this prolific artisl by 
concentrating on those two of his films 
which are set within a highly stylized gay 
milieu, Fox and The Bitter Tears of 
Petra von Kant, simply because their 
appeal to the gay community makes 
them highly saleable. Fox (not lo 
mention Petra which is particularly liable 
lo be misinterpreted) should nol be any- 
one's first Fassbinder 

In fact, films as distinctive and inno- 
vative as Fassbinder's need to be 
sampled and nibbled at slowly while a 
relationship between artist and spectator 
is built up gradually Fassbinder doesn't 
fit in very well to a movie culture based 
on instant gratification To be sure. 
Fassbinder is answerable for that loo, 
but that's another issue. 

Another frequent charge against Fox is 
that it doesn't reflect the reality of Ihe 
oppressive, homophobic society in which 
the gay ghetto is situated. It is true thai 
Ihe only explicit sense of this context 
comes from a scene where we are told 
that Fox and his lover have been kicked 
out of their apartment And even here it 
is implied that there would be no problem 
if Fox were as respectable as his more 
finely feathered fnends But that impli- 
cation is tor me precisely the point that is 
being made 

Our society has certainly reached the 
stage where the pnvileged circles to 
which Fox is aspinng do not confront 
oppression in a palatable, recognizable 
form, but in the more subtle ways which 
are brillianlly outlined in the film For 
example, in the impeccable "liberal" 
tolerance of Eugen's parents (Ihey try 
very conspicuously to behave like model 
m-laws and are only offended by Fox's 
table manners, not his gayness) Or in 
the exaggerated cultural pretensions and 
conspicuous consumption ot the upper 
class gay ghetto, an actuality which we 
would be dishonesl lo deny Here Fass- 
binder's observations are vivid and 
acute 

Andrew Bntton angnly stales lhal 
there is no sense whatever that 
gayness and bourgeois ideology are m 
any way incompatible, because there is 
so little evidence of societal oppression 
of the gay community depicted in the 
film Again I would say. that s precisely 
the point Britton has no doubt 
discovered something I don I know about 
the incompatibility of gayness and 
bourgeois ideology, or perhaps he jusi 



8/Our Image 



Body Politic/Dec- Jan 



Our Image 



doesn't read the Advocate. As far as I 
can see, the two seem to be gelling 
along quite nicely, and Fassbinder is 
making this perception quite clear 

For gay liberationists to pretend that 
class loyalties within the gay com- 
munity are not stronger than the mystical 
bonds ol gay brotherhood is simply 
fatuous and irresponsible jGoodsiem 
and the Advocate have demonstrated 
this dramatically) It is clear that the gay 
activist community must extend its 
solidanty to all oppressed groups within 
society, and surely Fassbinder's films 
with their perspective of a whole range of 
specific social problematics, their sym- 
pathy with a whole range of society's 
outcasts, victims, and exploded classes, 
are an inspiring affirmation of this pnn- 
ciple 

In any case. I find Fassbinder's 
cntiDsm of the bourgeois gay milieu, his 
analysis of the dynamics of that milieu, to 
be extremely useful As I've said, one of 
his targets is the ostentatious consumer- 
ism ol Fox's new friends The camera 
explores a range of settings, each one 
more crammed wilh the commodities and 
artifacts of bourgeois existence than the 
next One particularly dense reviewer in 
Fag Rag wondered how on earth anyone 
could like the atrociously tasteless collec- 
tion ol antiques that Fox's lover gathers 
lor their new apartment Once more, 
that's exactly the point Fassbinder over- 
does it beautifully 

When the scene moves to the baths, 
the same observation is extended from 
furniture, clothes, and cars, to the body 
and the genitals themselves Fox meets 
his antique-dealer fnend in the mud bath 
(do they really do it in the mud in 
Munich?) against a backdrop ot strolling 
naked young lovelies, and carefully 
posed crotch shots — anonymous and 
almost disembodied For me, the scene 
effects a stunning visualization of the 
ultimate degradation of the body, that 
objectification and consumenzalion of the 
body inherent in the Advocate lifestyle 
The baths become one more environ- 
ment packed with commodities, only 
here the commodities are youth, beauty, 
and genitals 

One more example The scene where 
Fox gets himsell picked up by the 
antique dealer at some roadside T-room, 
with blinking headlights and all (do they 
really use blinking headlights in Munich?) 
suggests another way we oppress one 
another The almost ntualistic choreo- 
graphy of the cruise and the final 
moment of consent offers a deft analysis 
of the shifting role of power in such a 
transaction 

However I would argue that Fass- 
binder's look at this particular gay milieu 
is not only a case ot airing dirty linen I 
think he has another goal in mind as 
well, and it's hard to tell how successful 
il is in its immediate cultural context ot 
Fassbinder s straight German public 
Regarding the use ot the gay setting. 
Fassbinder says with his customary 
ambiguity 

I think its incidental that the story 
happens among gays it could have 
worked gust as well in another milieu 
But I rather think that people look 
back al it more carefully precisely be- 
cause of its setting, because if il had 
been a normal love affair, then the 
melodramatic aspect would have 
loomed much larger I think that a 
moment comes when people stop 
noticing that they re watching gays, 
but then they're going to ask them- 
selves "Whai have we |ust been 
watching'' We've seen a story that 
took place among people whom we 
consider unnatural And through such 
bewilderment, through a moment of 




Interlude', Douglas Slrk. 1957. Rossano 
Brazil playing the piano for June Allyson. 
"Love Is the best, most Insidious, most 

effective Instrument of social repression " 



Eight Hours Don't Make a Day'. Henna 
Schygulla and Gottfried John In one ol 
Fassbinder's television films. "It would 
have been criminal to present the world as 
futile to 25 million people." 




positive shock, the whole stony also 
looks different 
Elsewhere he explains further 
The idea that the film takes place 
among homosexuals is because the 
political aspects come out much 
clearer this way When the social and 
political mechanisms are 
strong and working on an outsider 
group, then they work automatically 
on the so-called normal world 
In my opinion, the notion that a 
general audience will recognize those 
social and political mechanisms'' 
through a moment of positive shock' is 
at least as plausible as the assumption 
that people will swallow the happy. 
wholesome, positive stereotypes we're 
supposed to want in the media. Certainly 
this is true of the relatively sophisti- 
cated urban audience that Fassbinder is 
likely to reach in the North American 
situation 

Anyway it's a notion that must be 
tested II Fassbinder fails, the potential 
damage of a few extra negative stereo- 
types in a cultural environment already 
swamped with homophobia is inconse- 
quential, and well worth the experi- 
ment. 

Ill "Weepies" and 
"Film noir" roots 

I am more convinced than ever that 
love is the best, most insidious, most 
effective instrument of social 
repression 

Fassbinder wrote this statement of a 
theme explored m Fox (and most of his 
other films) after seeing a 1957 
Hollywood weepie called Interlude 
Interlude is a story of a passing 



romance between June Allyson and a 
European orchestra conductor played by 
Rossano Brazzi, from which Allyson 
emerges, as they say, sadder bul wiser 
Interlude was directed by Douglas Sirk. 
Universal Studio's master craftsman of 
"women's melodramas' or "weepies 
during the fifties Sirk is a)so v a director 
who, as one of the more cunous 
byproducts of cultural impenalism, has 
had more influence on Fassbinder than 
anyone else. 

The presence of this cultural cross- 
fertilization in Fox and his Friends may 
not at first seem terribly important 
If you think you've seen that brutally 
direct manipulation of pathos before, it's 
because you have — on the late, late 
show where Sirk's kind of "women's 
melodrama' is regular fare 

It's generally agreed now that Sirk 
was better than anyone else at rehashing 
those same old dramatic formulae which 
caused Joan Crawford and Bette Davis 
so much suflenng over the years. It's 
also agreed now that Sirk used the 
melodrama formula to grve Eisenhower 
America some ot the most probing inter- 
rogations it ever got. A sense ot Fox's 
roots in this tradition ot the Hollywood 
"weepie " adds immeasurably to the 
effect of the film. 

Most post-war European directors. 
Fassbiner included, have had their 
cultural contours shaped by Hollywood 
— the American domination of the 
European movie market made sure ol 
that, i especially in West Germany, 
where, with the help of the U S 
occupation forces, the Hollywood mon- 
opolies were able to effectively stifle the 
birth of the West German cinema tor an 
entire generation) After all. who could 
ever deal with Trutf aul, Godard, or 



Chabrol without reference to the 
Hollywood thnllers, gangster pictues, and 
yes, "weepies" which the Nouvelle 
Vague grew up on' 

In any case, Fassbinder's theme of the 
oppressive potential ot love was first 
taught to him by good old Universal 
Studios The rest of his Hollywood inheri- 
tance is just as important, For example, 
those scenes of unbearable pathos In 
which people's illusions evaporate before 
their eyes, are part ol that inheritance 
The scene in Imitation of Life (1959), 
where Lana Turner listens incredulously 
while Sandra Dee tells her what a lousy 
mother she's been, is resuscitated in- 
numerable limes by Fassbinder. For 
example, when his aging heroine in All: 
Fear Eats the Soul tells her grown-up 
children that she's going to marry Ali, a 
young Moroccan labourer, she gets to 
watch her son kick in her television 
screen and her daughter flounce out ot 
"this pigpen." Jane Wyman's monstrous 
children treat her exactly the same in 
Sirk's All That Heaven Allows when 
she makes a similar announcement 
about her gardener, Rock Hudson. 

Hollywood also gave Fassbinder the 
archetype of the working-class hero(ine) 
who sleeps his or her way to the top be- 
cause that's the only way to get there 
There's also his baroque way ol looking 
at things through railings and grills, 
through foreground frames ol bouquets 
and lamps and mirrors, or of using 
vertical elements ol the set, bedposts or 
room-dividers, to literally divide two quar- 
relling figures from each other on the 
screen It's right out of Sirk. naturally 

What it aJI means is that looking at Fox 
or All or Petra without reference to Sirk, 
and Hollywood in general, is a little like 
reading Eliot s The Wasteland without 
paying attention to the echoes of Dante, 
Wagner and Shakespeare, or listening to 
Bach's 8 Minor Mass without picking up 
on the old German hymn-tunes being 
reworked, or listening to Bob Dylan 
without reference to Woody Guthne It's 
possible, ol course, but you're missing a 

lot. 

Now, I'm not exactly a T S Eliot 
affioonado, and I would be the last 
person to endorse an artist who is 
content to address only that audience 
who knows Dante or Wagner — or Sirk 
lor that matter — and I would be the first 
to assert the importance ol the uninitiated 
response ol the casual consumer in any 
art form It is simply a question ol recog- 
nizing that Fassbmder is building on a 
cultural henlage we all more or less have 
in common {thanks ol course to the 
Amencan monopoly on film distribution in 
Canada, etc ) And he's building a radical 



Body Politic/Dec- Jan 



Our Image/9 



Our Image 




For gay liberationists to pretend that class loyalties within the gay community 
are not stronger than the mystical bonds of gay brotherhood is simply fatuous 
and irresponsible (Goodstein and The Advocate have demonstrated this 
dramatically). 



film practice on that heritage, reworking 
the okj conventions to exploit their 
potential as analytical tools 

We ve all been brought up lor 
example, on those marvelous old films m 
which Joan Crawford or whoever had to 
sleep, slave, or marry her way to Ihe top 
(or murder in Ihe film noir vanations of 
the genre) It were thinking of Sirk. 
substitute Barbara Stanwyck. Lana 
Turner, or Dorothy Malone Her progress 
up the ladder would usually be reflected 
along the way by ihe gradual refine- ^ 
ment of Ihe material trappings of her ' , 
existence, by a proliferation of the most 
gaudy and expressive outfits, furniture. 
and cars thai Hollywood designers- could 
come up with. But finally she would dis- 
cover that love and happiness are 
seldom at the top, only a different kind of 
loneliness (suffering, poverty) than af the 
bottom And if such movies implicitly. 
timidly, and obliquely analysed American 
class structure and bourgeois values 
from within the bastion of capitalism 
itself, Fassbinder uses the same conven- 
tions to do the same, only far more 
directly He refuses the gloss, the music, 
and the chronic last-minute happy end- 
ings with which Hollywood would hurriedly 
cover over ihe gaping void it had 
exposed 

So. instead of returning Fox to his 
previous lover and his contented pro- 
letarian existence, as Hollywood might 
have done, Fassbinder forces him lo Ihe 
logical oonclusion of suicide; and where 
Hollywood might have discreetly and 
compassionately draped the corpse, cut 
to an epilogue, or even rescued him at 
the last minute. Fassbinder forces you to 
watch his body in that desolate setting, 
long past the excruciating point where 
you have had enough And it such 
insistence makes you angry, fidgety, and 
alienated, it is because Fassbinder 
refuses you the relief that bourgeois 
dramaturgy usually offers in cathartic 
endings At that point you are likely to 
think about what you ve seen, about the 
way we let our social conditioning domi- 
nate our expectations in a relationship, or 
use our love to dominate or possess or 
exploit At least Fassbinder is hoping 
that's how you'll react 

A number ot Feminists are discover- 
ing that the conventions ol the women's 
melodrama are particularly useful m this 
direction. After all, most of the weepies' 
ended up with the heroine making a sac- 
nfice ol some kind, ol her love, her job, 
her children, her husband, etc. And so by 
using such conventions self-consciously. 
Fassbinder and these other filmmakers 
have lound. the traditional oppressive 
stereotypes of women's roles can be 
exposed in the Merchant of Four 
Seasons when Fassbinder exaggerates 
and stylizes beyond all verisimilitude the 
suflenng housewife stereotype (who puts 
up with being beaten and weeps perfect 
glycenne tears halfway down her nght 
cheek), this, I'll wager, is what he is up 



IV Problematics and 
Progress 

l said that Fassbinder s perspective 
has included a whole range ot sooal 
problematics There is onry enough 
space to sketch the contours of this 
accomplishment 

Often mens are specific sooal issues 
deart wrth m ha work At least three ol 
he ftfrra, lor example, deal with the 
Srtuafton of the Gestarbefe/ — ihe 
guest laborers « temporary imrrugranu 
. who pro-.-*)* most ol the unskilled labor 
ky *m German economy m many 



cases, they fill fobs that Germans are 
unwilling to do In Kazelmaeher (1969). 
Fassbinder himself plays a Greek 
Gastarbeiter. and, as m his later master- 
piece All. a romance between Ihe 
immigrant and a German woman serves 
to set Off the many contradictions m the 
story's social environment 

The latter film contains a scene 
which articulates with stunning precision 
the way in which Gasfarbe/fer are man- 
ipulated so as to divide the working class 
as a whole and keep wages down The 
scene unfolds during the lunchbreak of a 
group of cleaning women, among them 
Ihe agmg heroine who has mamed Ali 
The women are gaihered together on a 
sleep slaircase lor their sandwiches, 10- 
gelher with a new co-worker Yolande, 
just arrived Irom Yugoslavia The 
German women move away from 
Yolande to huddle on a landing just out 
ot earshot 10 discuss their wages (higher 
than Yolande s. of course) and the pos- 
sibility of getting a raise — a raise that 
would not benetit Yolande since "she's 
not m the same category anyway.' 1 
Meanwhile the ostracized woman stares 
down at them in pain and confusion, her 
face framed by the pnson-iike bars ol the 
railing (an old Sirkian tnck, as I've said) 
This vivid, economical scene is as suc- 
cessful a piece of didactic drama as any- 
thing I've seen in Brecht The whole 
relationship ol racism lo economics is re- 
vealed with malchless clarity 

Fassbinder touches upon other such 
concrete situations — Ihe cynical oppor- 
tunism ol the traditional leftist parties, the 
corruption ol the police, the role of the 
unions in working class life the lis! is 
virtually as long as his filmography 

However, his attention is most com- 
pellmgiy drawn to the general contra- 
dictions of our society: the oppres- 
sion exerted by the institution ol our 
society the oppression exerted by the 
institution ol the lamily, alienation in 
work, Ihe internalization ol domination in 
alcoholism, lantasy. violence, maso- 
chism these contradiclions are con- 
fronted with the unabashed directness 
that has become Fassbinder s trade- 
mark. 

The landscape of contemporary 
Germany is continually evoked as an 
image of these contradictions, as cause 
and reflection ot the psychological and 
matenal conditions of Fassbmder's 
characters Wildwechsel. for example, 
an austerely told teenage love slory 
made in 1972 |the tille means 'Wildlife 
Crossing), is set in a drab provincial 
town whose major industry seems to be 
a poultry processing plan! The 19-year- 
old motorcyclist hero and his fnends are 
constantly seen in relation to their work 
at the plant Long lines of suspended, 
naked chickens form a backdrop to their 
tedious, mechanical work Forcelul 
Godardian tracking-shots up and down 
the assembly line of chicken processors 
seem to posit a connection between the 
squalor of factory life and inevitable 
violence which will destroy the hero's 
romantic dreams It has lo be this 
obvcus on the screen because the 
dreams sometimes blur the connections 
in real lite 

If we compare Fassbinder s work to 
that ot the other current Wunderkmd ol 
ihe international film festivals, Werner 
Herzog, (The Enigma of Kaspar 
Hauaer. and Aguirre. Wrath of God). 
the contrast is startling Herzog 9 dims 
are largely concerned with posing 
labored philosophical questions m heav.iv 
mythotogized. hisioncal or exotic set- 
l«no5 Herzog h*nse» expresses no in- 
terest <n the domestic German audience, 
and in fact « qurte unashamed to admit 



that he is making dims for hypolhetical 
future audiences who alone will be able 
to appreciate his art in the context ot 
such, let us say. unsenousness, 
Fassbmder's stature as an artist of com- 
manding relevance is indisputable 

I would not wan^my admiration lor 
Fassbinder to Passias totally unquali- 
fied and uncntical Tnere are already 
enough Fassbinder treaks drooling over 
hjs Art in the cinemas ot the western 
world — thanks to the West German 
govemmenl which actively pushes its 
new young filmmakers m the interests of 
German cultural prestige 

I am simply saying lhat Fassbinder is 
sayng a lot ol things worth listening to 
His films ought to continue to find an 
audience m the gay community, despile 
the widespread criticism he has mel m 
the gay activist press 

Having said this. I would be dishonest 
not to articulate one or two questions I 
have about this remarkable dlmmaker 
For me, his major liability is his sus- 
ceptibility to misinterpretation by his 
foreign and non-specialisl audiences 
There is an undeniable temptaiion to 
read his highly stylized, exaggerated use 
of melodramatic conveniens as camp or 
parody, a sensibility lhat Fassbinder 
emphatically disavows I occasionally 
tmct mysell asking exactly how a certain 
particularly outrageous gesture or detail 
of design is meant to be digested, it nol 
with those distinctive squeals which 
those of us who have a weakness, for 
Oivme, say, sometimes greet her 
presence in our'more vulnerable 
moments A very deliberate line is to be 
drawn between Fassbmder's sensibility 
and that ol Divine's impresario, John 
Waters, or the presumptuous, execrable 
mockery ol Fassbinder s Swiss con- 
temporary, Daniel Schmid, who confuses 
things by using some ol Fassbinder s 
actors Occasionally Fassbinder makes 
that line difficult to draw, and it is only 
Ihe context ol his whole career which 
makes it definitely possible 

Fassbinder can also be guilty of a vision 
so arcane that it cannot be penetrated 
There are occasions when he revels in 
an ambiguity thai is baffling rather than 
stimulating In my opinion, Fassbinder 
has hovered at times dangerously close 
to a kind of intellectualized lormalism 
which has too often been the retuge of 
gay artists within the artistic avant-garde 
(Curiously, the debate withm Gay Left 
over Fox alludes at one point to lour 
American gays, apparently disapprov- 
ingly, who have contributed to the 
Amencan Underground cinema — 
Kenneth Anger. Constance Beeson. Jack 
Smith, and Gregory Markopoulos — all 
examples, as lar as I'm concerned, ol 
this lamentable elitist tendency among 
gays involved m High Art.) 

Fassbinder himself speaks of his early 
films, many of which are rather baroque 
reworkings ol Amencan gangster-film 
formulae, as being too elitist, and loo 
private, just made lor mysell and a lew 
friends You must respect your 
audience more than l did in this 
respect, it is certainly a credit to 
Fassbinder that, as his career develops, 
the moments of self-indulgence, the 
onanishc' tendencies (as he puis it) 
become less and less important in his 
work, and more and more he communi- 
cates with his audience by means of his 
distinctive, sooally engaged form of 
realism 

One final question stems Irom the 
almost overwhelming tone ol despair, of 
defeatism, if you like, which dominates 
the majonty ol Fassbmder's films As tar 
as I can remember, there is only on* 
happy ending m the ten or so 



Fassbmders that I've managed to see. 
and that one is qualified by a predictable 
toughness and ambivalence I'm retemng 
to the conclusion of All, the most 
mmaniic Fassbinder ihal l ever expect to 
see The pressures ol family and society 
have split up the heroine and her young 
'Moroccan husband, bul Fassbinder 
provides us with a selt-indulgently senti- 
mental moment ot reconciliation, in ihe 
literally rose light of the dance floor 
where they first mel But Fassbinder cuts 
this short Ah collapses from a 
mysterious miemal injury which a kindly 
doctor explains, quile plausibly, comes 
Irom the stress ol being an immigrant 
worker So after these rapid turnabouts. 
the final scene finds the pair facing an 
uncertain luture in Alt's hospital room, a 
lulure which only our Hollywood upbring- 
ing and the tenderness on the dance 
floor lead us to believe is possible 

Elsewhere, Fassbinder does not let us 
torget lhat Ihe vicious circles and Iraps ot 
our society and our lives offer no 
escape, and this insistence would seem 
inconsistent with his personal convic- 
tions For example, he made these 
observations when an interviewer asked 
him about anarchists, the target ot rather 
blunt satire in one of his most recent 
films: 
.. I'm very interesled in finding out how 
one can use the strength these people 
[anarchists! have Now It's very im- 
portant lo me to make very positive 
films, and they are very clever people 
They have great intellectual poten- 
tial, but also an over-sensitive des- 
pair which I don't know how one would 
use construclively 
What is cunous is that one is often 
tempted to describe Fassbmder's work 
itself in terms ol "over-sensitive despair ." 
The issue is further complicated in (hat 
Fassbmder's series ol live television 
dims on working-class lile (it was to be 
eight but the governmenl network got 
nervous) expressed an optimism, a faith 
in collective slrenglh, lhat his films have 
seldom even hinted at Again an 
interview shed some light on the 
question the TV series, entitled Eight 
Hours Don't Make a Day. departed in 
such a radical new direction for 
Fassbinder because 

all the plays and films I've written lor 
were designed tor an intellectual 
audience, and with the intellectuals 
one can easily allow oneselt to be 
pessimistic and end without hope, be- . 
cause an intellectual is both prepared 
and inclined to reflect over II. But (or 
the large audience which television 
offers, it would have been reactionary, 
nearly criminal, in fact, to represent 
Ihe world as futile Their world looks 
pretty (utile to them in the first place, 
so one's |usi got to try and encourage 
them and say You ve got possibilities 
anyway You ve got power to bear be- 
cause your oppressors are dependent 
upon you Whal is an employer with- 
out employees' 7 Nothing On the other 
hand, one can well imagine workers 
without employers This attitude was 
Ihe principal reason that to' ihe Orel 
time I made something positive. 
hopeful With an audience of 25 million 
ordinary people, you can't allow your- 
self anything else 

The appearance of three new 
Fassbmders every year, without any 
Signs ol abating, each one breaking new 
ground in some direction or other «. 
| however, undeniably something positrve 
: And maybe one of them will turn out to 
' be our Mm after all D 



tO'Ourli 



Oec-Jen/Body Politic 



Books 



Sexual Variance in 
Society and 
History 

Vem Bullough 
Wiley. 1976, $27.75 

History, like everything else, it seems, is 
subject to the dictates ot fashion . and the 
historical work) of the late twentieth 
century appears to have discovered thai 
human sexuality is indeed fashionable 
And God knows, it is about time, lor 
what has up till now been written about 

sex in history' is usually misleading, 
often malicious, intentionally or otherwise, 
and downnght foolish This may be taken 
as an especially apt description of what 
passes for the history of homosexual be- 
haviour, for in a field which is only 
beginning lo study women and the 
family, homosexuality rather resembles a 
battered idiot child in a family of mental 
detectives In the light of this unsur- 
prising but nonetheless sorry state of 
affairs, Vern Bullough s latesl book is to 
be welcomed For Bullough has, at the 
very least, written in a more or less 
neutral manner and without any 
noticeable special pleading about sub- 
jects which are normally either ignored or 
deformed out ot all recognition Pnde ol 
place in his work has. ot course, been 
reserved lor male and female homo- 
sexuality Bui other, now increasingly 
chic, although once carefully hidden, 
variations, in particular transvestism and 
transsexuality, are also covered, and we 
are taken on minor excursions into 
historical bestiality, masturbation, sado- 
masochism, adultery and prostitution as 
well. 

In other words, Bullough's Subjects are 
the detritus of western civilization, the 
distafl side ot its sexuality, and it is on 
the sexuality of " the West" irom its 
classical and Christian roots to the 
present that he has focused, with only 
brief looks at the more exotic worlds of 
Islam. India and China Thai his subjects 
can all be placed in the category of di- 
staff sexuality and lhat. as ihe author 
claims, they have often been lumped 
with" homosexuality in the past, is per- 
haps sufficient justification for treating 
matters so diverse in origin and content 
in a single volume 

Bullough s work has many solid — one 
is templed lo say, bourgeois — virtues 
Above all, he is a tireless collector of 
sources and facts, and his notes are a 
good place lor both scholars and others 
interested in ihe subject to search for 
starting-points for their own work. It is 
true that his text, a synthesis of 
numerous original and not-so-ongmal re- 
searches into several thousand years of 
history, is often rather chaotic and 
ill-organized, but this is. at least m part. 
a product of the disparateness ol his 
subject matter as well as of his attempt 
to write for several, very differently 
equipped audiences at once Bullough 
does make a considerable number of 
errors, but this too is simply an occup- 
ational hazard for all who would write in 
fields other than their own, and who are. 
therefore, reduced to dependency upon 
the more detailed writings ol experts 

Such minor blemishes, moreover, are 
not very significant when all is said and 
done The most that one might daim is 
that Bullough s book is somewhat pre- 
mature, not having been preceded by 
the mass of careful, detailed studies 
necessary to a general synthetic work of 
this sort Indeed, it is important to realize 
that even in a field like Greek hislory, 
where sexuality has always been 
stucked homosexuality ts not well served 
by the existing literature Only recently 
has the promise ot better things to come 
begun to bear hesitant fruit 

Thai K5 not to say that Bullough hansel! 
a unaware ot Vie quality ol his sources 
He knows full we»i that the secondary lit- 
erature a biased and ■naccursi* and 
thai whit the scoebes he a stutyng tail 
us about the* own sfeuatty <• rw 



Body Pomic/Oae-JiT 



always to be trusted Who. after all, in a 
generation which follows that ol Marx 
and Freud is so naive as to take the 

self-explanation of society or individual at 
simple lace-value 7 In a world m which it 
is increasingly evident that we know very 
little about our own sexuality, it is under- 
standable that we should be somewhal 
skeptical of our ability to understand that 
of others 

It is the recognition of this difficulty 
which has in large measure dictated the 
nature of Bullough s attempt to under- 
stand the past Facts are inaccessible 
or untrustworthy, but attitudes can be 
studied because, after all, that is 
essentially what the sources provide. St 
Paul or Augustine, the code of 
Hammurabi or that of Napoleon — these 
may be unreliable as guides to the actual 
sexual practices of their sooeties, but as 
guides to its ideology (or, at least, that ol 
its dominant classes) they are the very 
stuff of living history And so. almost 
inevitably, Bullough's is a history ot 
attitudes towards sexuality This m iiseli 
has its dangers, and unfortunately these 
dangers are amply illustrated by 
Bullough s work 

Bullough's focus on attitudes leads him 
to accept the idealist position that it is 
ideas and attitudes which create history 
by themselves Thus, for Bullough. it is 
particular Biblical injunctions or peculiar 
Greek ascetic" traditions which cause 
later negative judgements on and 
treatment of sexuality in general and 
homosexuality in particular Why later 
societies should accept those notions. 
and why they literally hang around for so 
many generations, somehow seizing 
upon Ihe minds of human beings. 
remains unexplained 

Sexuality is not simply a matter of 
ideas and attitudes, but at least as much 
of institutions. All human societies, unlike 
animal species, institutionalize sexuality 
in a vanely of ways, using it lo construct 
and confirm the social order Sexuality is 
therefore inextricably intertwined with 
and embedded in other aspects of 
human life It cannot be discussed tor 
any soaety without an intimate know- 
ledge of thai society's economic struc- 
tures, its social structures, including its 
class relationships, its familial institutions 
and the respective roles it provides for its 
male and female members, among other 
things And these institutions will vary 
considerably from society to society. 
creating significantly different patterns of 
sexuality At times Bullough seems lo 
understand this — he does write al length 
about the role of women, for example, an 
understanding of whose position in mosl 
societies is critical for our understanding 
of that of homosexuality — but he never 
really ties the pieces together or goes 
beneath the ideological surface. Thus, lo 
use an example Irom his treatment ol 
Greek antiquity, he is,aware that the 
Athenian statesman Solon is said to 
have been opposed to male prostitution 
|p 112). but neglects the tact, which 
alone makes the story meaningful, that it 
is prostitution by citizens that is in 
question, other forms of male prostitution 
(by slaves or other non-atizens) are 
irrelevant to the legislator. 



Bullough s problem here is the product 
of a sbll wider misconception Bullough s 
neutrality does not allow him to evaluate 
the Iheones and interpretations of his 
predecessors cntically. or to create new 
and compelling ones of his own Indeed. 
he appears to hold a belief thai Facts 
more or less lie around waiting (or the 
neutral researcher to discover them I 
have not," he wntes. adopted any 
theory about sexuality, whether Freudian. 
Marxian, or Augustmian. but have 
accepted sexuality as a biological (act 
(P *') 

This is refreshingly quaint, but nol 
very useful The past presents itself to us 
only in the guise ol a mass of mean- 
ingless data, which the historian must 
put together into a comprehensible lorm 
To abandon this task under ihe pretense 
that facts exist outside of the human 
mind is to abdicate the pnme respon- 
sibility of the scholar In practice such an 
abdication normally means that the 
theonzation of others is simply accepted 
uncritically, and often unknowingly, by 
the supposedly neutral observer, and this 
is precisely what Bullough has done 

One sees this dearly in the very cate- 
gories into which he organizes his 
material: "homosexuality' ', "transves- 
tism '. and the like These are 
nowhere defined, and nowhere does 
Bullough give the impression that he is 
aware lhat they are very modern 
categones. themselves in need ot 
exploration to determine their usefulness 
lor the past For example, to place such 
diverse matters as Ihe riiual 
cross-dressmg practiced in antiquity, the 
berdache of Ihe North Amencan Indian 
Inbes, and seemingly related institutions 
known from other societies, all within the 
contemporary category ol transvestism is 
fundamentally misleading These institu- 
tions do. ot course, share some lealures 
in oommon, but they are hardly identical- 
and they play utterly different roles in the 
societies in which they appear. 

By the same loken, even the 
categories of homosexuality and helero- 
sexuality may not be very useful for 
every society or even for most of them 
Homosexuals and heterosexuals, with 
particular life-styles and more-or-less 
exdusive sexual patterns do exist m our 
world, but thai is a fairly recent 
development Not to undersiand this is to 
make homosexuality and heterosexuality 
into conditions (like diseases) which 
completely characterize individuals. 
rather than into groups of (detachable) 
acfs In many primitive societies, as well 
as in societies as sophisticated as that of 
classical Greece, Ihe same persons 
could, for example, engage at different 
times and — for different purposes — in 
a vanety of heterosexual or homosexual 
activities This means lhai homosexuality 
and heterosexuality did indeed exist, but 
that homosexuals and heterosexuals as 
such did not The later categories 
appear lo anse only in more complex 
and highly urbanized societies, for 
which post-classical Greece and Rome, 
in the ancient world, and bourgeois 
society in Europe and Amenca since 
the Renaissance, in modem times. 
provide examples. And even in those 



L H* 




Our Image 



societies the categones are hardy as 
absolute as some would prefer to have 

it 

To accept the underlying assumptens 
of Bullough's point of view (a position 
shared by many others within the gay 
community itself) inevitably leads us to 
view ourselves as a kind of biological. 
ethnic or racial category cutting across 
all of history It misleads us as to the 
position we actually occupy in our own 
society and thus mcapaaiaies us to fight 
the real political and soaal struggles ol 
the presjnt and future It ma> 
believe that our oppression is one of 
incorrect attitudes " only, and it renders 
Ihe past incapable of highlighting the 
uniqueness of the present, and thus 
makes the past essentially meaningless 
except as Ihe site ot a foolish and 
self-serving game in which the number 
ol homosexuals in every hisloncal 
society is counted, after which we all 
congratulate each other- thai "wo" have. 
after all. always been here 

Bullough's book is, therefore, 
praiseworthy as a starting point for the 
study of homosexuality in history, but it 
remains a starting poml only 

by Robert PadgugH 



THE BERDACHE To piaot loch drverM matter* tt the ritual croM-drMsing 
practiced in antiquity. the bertJachg ot the North American Indian tribe*, and aeemlngly 
related Inatitutkjni known from other aociette* ell within " 
Ot tramv— tlam kt fundamentally misleading 



In Her Day 

Rita Mae Brown 
Daughters Inc. (Press Gang in 
Canada), 1976, $4.50 
"In art as in politics we must deal with 
people as Ihey are. nol as we wish them 
lo be Only by working with Ihe real can 
you get closer to the ideal So says ihe 
"Note to Ihe Feminist Reader" which 
opens In Her Day Political striving for 
Ihe ideal makes perfect sense to me: 
how politics and art can be so paralleled 
baffles this feminist reader 

The plol of In Her Day is Ihe story ol 
Ihe quesls — whether conscious or not 
— of two women who have each lost an 
important facel of life withoul seeming to 
notice its passing Carol Hanratty is an 
Art History professor who m the course 
of 46 years of life, many ol those years 
pursuing her career, had lost her sense 
of adventure Use James, a waitress in a 
teminisl resiaurant, had spent ihe last 
two ol her 23 years "in struggle" for 
women's liberation and had lost her 
sense ol beauty and. sometimes her 
sense of humor Physical attraction and 
fascination with the differences that 
separate Ihem draw these two women 
and their worlds together briefly An 
exchange of ideas and experiences 
enriches each in turn 

Use James is. unfortunately, a card- 
board character A stereotype All 
rhelonc and predictable conflicts. A 
feminist on the surface, with nothing 
below bul a resentment of the "middle 
dass background from which she so 
desperately and comidy seeks to 
escape By contrast, Carol Hanratty is 
the more real' of the two We are 
allowed to catch glimpses ol her past 
lhat reveal some of the forces that 
shaped this intnguing woman 

This unevenness of character develop- 
ment means that the enrichment the 
women gam through their relationship 
remains on a superficial level While 
Carol and Use learn from each other, 
neither seems aware of the other s 
development, nor is either concerned 
about making her lover aware of the 
influence she is having and the posi- 
tive changes that result The novel ends 
on an uncertain note The two women 
have changed direction, but they are still 
quite different directions and neither 
Carol nor Use seem indined to evaluate 
the experience as a whole 

But Rita Mae Browns intention m 
bnngmg these two together seems to be 
more than to allow us valuable insights 
into the lives and relationships of the 
strong women many of her lesbian 
readers stnve lo be She bnngs two 
worlds together to permit a dialogue thai 
serves political ends There is nolhung 
wrong with this per se But when art is 
sacrificed (or the sake of politics, an 
fails To have been polrticaiy convincing. 
In Her My should first have been 

Our Image/ 11 



Our Image 



artistically convincing By slopping short 
of a lull exploration of her characters 
Brown does no! reach as far as she 
might have. 

Despite its heavy emphasis, the 
political message" contained in In Her 
Day is ambiguous. Brown seems to say 
that tn our haste to build a movement (or 
our liberation, lesbians and women in 
general have overlooked many ot our 
potential strengths and allies — especi- 
ally those that lie m the past, in our 
roots, and in the women who earned on 
"the struggle' in their individual Iwes 
before there was a movement She nsks 
condemnation by the movement she 
helped create by taking a stand in favor 
of leadership and {in a less forceful way) 
organization. But she puts lorward no 
evaluation of this movement from the 
time of her initial involvement to her 
present-day criticisms Nor does she 
propose a direction tor the future The 
one point in the novel at which it would 
be appropriate to do so is passed over 
with individual women exacting revenge 
from individual antagonists (both within 
and without Ihe movement) While these 
feminists claim to be acting realistically 
rather than idealisticaliy and to be 
refusing to act "lady-like" any longer, 
their anonymity makes their actions 
ineffective no better than polite, lady- 
like, behmd-the-door deals with women's 
oppressors No further solution, no 
alternative is presented 

There is no doubt that Rila Mae 
Brow veiling has power In Her Day is 
written m the same language and with 
Ihe same force that has moved many of 
us m Brown's previous novel and in her 



poetry 




Rila Mae Brown 



Now that I've mentiond it, I must 
succumb to the templation to compare In 
Her Day to its predecessor, Bubytruit 
Jungle I read In Her Day trying 
desperately to let it stand on its own and 
to ignore how much Rubyfruit Jungle 
had inspired and influenced me Bui 
deep down inside I hoped for the same 
inspiralion I knew I was expecting a lot 
but. after all. it was Rita Mae Brown who 
set my standards so high Rubytrurt 
Jungle s greatest strength is its con- 
vincing and complete heroine, Molly Bolt 
On the other hand, In Her Day's reluc- 
tance to deal with its two women m 
depth is its greatest weakness. 

I'm glad I read In Her Day I'm sure I'll 
read il again and perhaps I'll get more 
out ol it a second time I'm hoping the 
disappointment will be lessened by 
closer examination I am certain about 
one thing that the dynamism and insight 
that was barely containable in Ruby- 
fruit Jungle still lurks in my favonte 
lesbian novelist, and thai with time and 
growth, we can safely expect to see it 
reproduced 

by Christine BearchellD 

The Church and 
the Homosexual 

John J. McNeill. S.J. 

Sheed. Andrews & McNeil. 1976. 

$11.50 

In 1974. Father McNeill, a founder of 
Dignity, was forbidden by his Jesuit 
superiors to speak, publish or teach any- 
thing on Ihe question of homosexuality 
until his work was examined by a com- 
mission of theologians Allhough chal- 
lenging traditional Church teachings and 



pastoral practice, his book was judged 
by that commission to be a senous 
work meeting the standards of scholar- 
ship for publication of a book on 
important but controversial moral 
issues." Since the Church's official 
leaching on sexuality does not claim to 
be infallible and immutable, it is possible 
that the Church might, at some time in 
the future, modify its position. There- 
fore, the ecclesiastical imprimi potest 
was granted Ihis year 

Relying on recent Biblical scholarship, 
McNeill critically re-examines what have 
been interpreted as scriptural condem- 
nations of homosexuality He categon- 
cally denies that the offense of Sodom 
and Gommorah had any relation lo 
homosexuality. This is quite important 
given the central place ihe destruction ol 
"the cities of the plain" has played m the 
homophobic imagination. McNeill further 
argues that the proscriptions against 
homosexual behavior in both Old and 
New Testaments must be mlerpreted in 
their historical, cullural context To read 
the modem meaning of homosexuality 
into scriptural passages is a misleading 
and dangerous anachronism II is only 
temple prostitution and homosexual 
behavior of heterosexual men which is 
condemned in the scriptures, the 
"condition" of being gay, which McNeill 
regards as "given," and hence unrelated 
to free will, is not the object. Since male 
homosexuality was perceived as an 
offense against ihe masculine values of 
a patriarchal society, what women did 
with each other was not deemed 
important. 

Continuing his exploralion of the 
historical development of the Church's 
denigration of homosexuality ihrough the 
Church Fathers, McNeill shows how the 
traditional homophobic edifice was built 
on what he has already shown to be 
lalse scriptural bases An especially 
damaging accretion was the greal 
influence of stoic philosophy with its total 
rejection of love and sexual pleasure m 
any form for anyone. The heavily pro- 
creative bias of the stoics reinforced 
narrow, legalistic interpretations of scrip- 
tures. For instance, whereas the earliest 
(Yahwist) portion of the crealion story in 
Genesis gave companionship as Eve's 
raison d'etre, the later (Pnestly) portion 
gave procreation. The latter was 
exclusively emphasized by store- 
influenced early Christians. Moral theolo- 
gy was largely reduced to demands lor 
submission to the "natural" structure and 
order of the species An alternative moral 
theology, which McNeill calls "personal- 
is!," has only re-emerged in recent years 
within Catholicism. For fifteen centuries, 
"the dominant Catholic approach to 
sexual morality inordinately placed all the 
emphasis on the biological and physical 
aspects of the sexual act. ignoring the 
interpersonal context in which the act 
lakes place." 

His careful historical and linguistic 
analyses are presented m a quite lucid 
and readable exposition These sections 
will fascinate most readers, but the 
remaining sections will come as a revel- 
ation to few members of Ihe gay com- 
munity. Nonetheless, the book is of con- 
siderable significance as a model accep- 
ting homosexuality, and should be read 
by all Chnstians, gay and straight. 

A review of social scientific literature 
understates the case against seeing any 
connection between homosexuality and 
mental illness. McNeill inexplicably 
ignores the work of Nitsche. Liddicoat, 
Armon, Change and Block, Dean and 
Richardson, and most of the studies of 
Evelyn Hooker and Mark Freedman 
These studies provide a great deal of 
evidence to buttress his position that 
there is nothing intrinsically ill about gay 
people. Unless homosexuality is defined 
as pathological in itsell (or |udges are 
told who is what), gay and straight 
samples cannot be distinguished reliably 
by diagnostic" personality tests. 

The following section on what the 
church and society could and should 
learn from gay people and gay com- 
munities is interesting, but much of it 
consists of elaboration of a quote from 
Jung (which I consider sexist) 

His cntique of traditional pastoral 
policy towards gay people, however, 



deserves to be definitive He shows that 
demands for a conversion to hetero- 
sexuality or for total sexual abstinence 
are impossible and counterproductive. 
They create guilt, alienate gay men and 
women from "the community of believ- 
ers," and foster rather than curb de- 
structive and and depersonalized sexual 
behavior they "undermine the develop- 
ment ol healthy interpersonal relation- 
ships among homosexuals and gave the 
appearance that the Church disapproved 
more of the love between homosexuals 
than it did of their sexual activity " 
Furthermore, the Church ministered to 
individual "moral problems' when it 
should have helped build community and 
(ought homophobia in its own house. 

From his review of scripture, social 
science, the history of official theology 
and official pastoral practice, McNeill con- 
cludes that there is no basis for main- 
taining invidious distinctions between 
homosexual and heterosexual love Both 
must be judged by the same moral pnn- 
ciples. These must be humanistic rather 
than legalistic Some criteria which he 
suggests are mutuality, fidelity, unselfish- 
ness and unexploitativeness. He does 
not attempt to spell out any specific 
moral code, since he recognizes that 
only the gay community can define what 
"ethically responsible gay relationships" 
are. 

McNeill has been criticized by some for 
legitimizing only monogamous imitations 
of traditional marriage, although he 
clearly attacks the patriarchal heritage 
and the distortions of human relation- 
ships such as ethic causes McNeill's 
book may not be liberation, but it is liber- 
ating. To systematically destroy the 
bases used to justify oppression, as he 
does, is an extremely important contri- 
bution. I do not think it is reasonable to 
expect Father McNeill to have attacked 
every received notion at once, or, for thai 
matter, to lead either the church or the 
gay community into the Promised Land. 




Father John McNeill. SJ 



As he says, gay communities must carve 
out their own ethics and their own vision 
of "human nature" — inside or outside 
Christianity The elhics for relationships 
he proposes are, I think, intended to 
apply to a society which has overcome 
oppression That is, they are moral 
ultimate principles. Then, the criteria for 
ethical relationships should not dis- 
tinguish Ihe sex ol partners But so long 
as there is persecution against one and 
institutional sanctions of the other, no 
reasonable person can expect gay 
relationships to be even so stable as 
straight ones. 

by Stephen Murray, 



Propos pour une 

liberation 

(homo)sexuelle 

Paul-Francois Sylvestre 
Editions de I'Aurore, Montreal, 
1976, $7.95 (paper) 
Something novel and a chance to prac- 
tice your French — a book about six 
months in Ihe life of a Franco-Ontanon 
gay who was accused ol gross in- 
decency in the Ottawa "male prostitution 
ring" scandal ol March 1975 and as a 
result came oul as a gay activist in the 
capital city The book was released in 
September by Editions de I'Aurore as 
part ol the fifth anniversary celebrations 



of Gays of Ottawa/Gais de lOutaouais 

The title, "Ideas for (homo)sexual liber- 
ation", is a bit misleading. The book is 
not an essay but a diary There is a bil 
of essay-like analysis, about sex roles for 
instance, and a uselul bibliography of 
writings in French by and about gays 
But mostly the author gives us descnp- 
tions of scenes of his family and work 
life, sexual encounters and relation- 
ships, and activities in Gays ol Ottawa 
This makes for a rather unique blend on 
one page a sketch ol a pick-up in the 
park and on the next a gay liberation 
meeting. The linking theme is that each 
successive event enables the author to 
"become more himself", as he puts it, in 
the diary's first entry 




P a ul-Francols Sylvestre 



For me the big drawback of the book 
is that the possibilities of Ihe diary form 
are lost to a considerable extent, mostly I 
think because Sylvestre has not started 
the story at its real beginning. There are 
allusions, even on the front cover, to his 
arrest by the Ottawa police in March 
1975, but the diary does not begin until 
December of (hat year 

This means thai Ihe event in which the 
author personally laced overt oppression 
is all but absent from the book He often 
mentions cases of conflict between the 
gay movement and the powers- lhat-be: 
the Damien case, the bad reaction Gays 
of Ottawa got when it presented a bnef on 
dangerous sexual offenders legislation to 
a parliamentary committee. But his own 
experience of conflict is distant. There is 
only a short personal recollection in the 
entry for December 2, followed in the 
January 4 entry by an eight-page 
reportage on the scandal. In other words, 
loo much objective description and not 
enough of the author's interior expenence 
of events 

Doubtless there is great value in 
reminding readers ol the press reaction 
and how it led to the suicide of Warren 
Zufelt. another of those arrested But 
whal I wanted lo know is how Sylvestre 
Felt and what he thought when he read 
about the suicide And what was Ihe 
internal dynamic that led him to attend a 
Gays of Ottawa meeting nine months 
later, just after the diary opens The six 
months we do see cannot, I think, be 
understood without the months that 



Besides Ihe lack of light from the past, 
I also had a feeling ot something 
missing in the present, for instance in the 
account of the author's relations with his 
family. The family reaction seems to 
have been positive, except from his 
lather. But the story of his father is told 
entirely through Ihe eyes ol his 
sympathetic mother, so again the sense 
of conflict is lost A lengthy entry about 
his first encounter with his father alter 
coming out to his family would have 
added a lot 

There are several interesting comments 
in the family vignettes, but they pass by 
in a hurry and are not followed up. In 
the entry for Christmas Day 1975 "I feel 
such a stranger here in my own lamlly, I 
am thinking of Michel" (with whom he 
had spent the night a couple of days 
earlier) But in a conversation with his 
sister we find a quite different feeling 
about family-type relations m this 
decidedly odd statement "If I were to go 
to bed with a woman. I think you are the 
only one I would feel at ease with The 



12. Our Image 



Dec-Jan/Body Politic 



theme ol gay people and the family thus 
remains a backdrop, though surely it 
should be central to any ideas about 
homosexual liberation 

Another kind of conflict touched on but 
not explored before the author came out 
he was an activist m the fight tor the 
nghts ot the francophone minority in 
Ontano The interesting thing here is not 
the parallel between that and the 
author's current fight for the homosexual 
minority but the evocation of a conflict in 
the past: "To be* honest, l had a great 
time in those younger days. I did 
something for the francophones ol 
Canada But today I wonder why I was 
always so busy Why all that wo* and 
endless study 9 Why was I such a 
senous person 9 Why did I accept a Nte 
without emotion, without sex?" Vital 
questions. What bnngs a gay man out 
and what makes him fight for his rights? 
How do conflicts like this one last for a 
time and then get resolved? I was 
moved by this passage in its context and 
was waiting for more, but no more came 

One last example of the way a conflict 
is raised only lo vanish is in the series of 
sexual encounters that are described. 
The author questions himself as to 
whether it is the brief physical encounter 
that he seeks or something else. But 
there is no real reflection leading to an 
answer, just the brief — though very 
valuable — suggestion that Ihe answer 
cannot be found without looking at the 
institutions of the gay community (bars, 
parks and now gay organizations) that 
shape his life 

The last entry in (he diary, like the first, 
describes a sexual encounter — in 
language which is almosl identical. 
Although we know thai a lot had 
happened to the author, there is not 
really a sense that much has changed 

We see the author almost always in a 
calm slate of mind on the day of an 
entry Thus we cannot relate the 
apparent calm of most days to the 
underlying forces at work, because they 
are not betore us enough. The 
landmarks by which we may judge 
change are no! sufficiently visible. Such 
landmarks are small in real life, it's true, 
but in literary reflection they should be 
made large. Fictionalizing is not a 
departure Irom reality but an attempt to 
see beneath its surface. The journalistic 
approach the author uses cannot 
adequately reveal human character 
development. 

The generally muted tone of Ihe diary 
is reinforced by the language used. 
Though very different types of activity 
are portrayed, and though the diary form 
makes possible the use of a wide vanety 
of styles (conversational, reflective, 
descnplive, dramatic) the language is 
unchanging, even in the three poems Ihe 
author includes. The language is at a 
fairly high literary level, which I have not 
attempted to convey in the extracts 
translated in this review. Often I found it 
mappropnate. especially for Ihe descnp- 
tions of sex Here I may be culturally 
prejudiced, as an anglophone Canadian, 
about what are appropriate linguistic 
forms. However, I am sure I am nght in 
saying the conversations are not 
recorded in the kind ol language people 
talk in At one point the author says he is 
going to transcribe a conversation with 
his mother What follows may give the 
content of what they said, but certainly 
not the form and flavor. 

The lengthmess of my cnticisms here 
is not intended to reflect how well I liked 
the book, |ust the difficulty in stating what 
I found wrong I recommend the book, 
particularly to those for whom a gay 
activist remains something of an 
unknown quantity The totally self- 
affirmmg outlook of the author is not 
something gay readers can find in many 
books And I am sure that readers will 
rind, as I did. resonances ol events in 
their own lives 

The idea ol linking the life ot an 
individual to political struggle is one I 
hope the author follows up. Certainly 
most ot the questions that need 
answering are here I would look forward 
to another book on the events leading up 
to the point where Propos begins 

by Brian MossopC 



Oscar Wilde 

H. Montgomery Hyde 

Farrar, Strauss. Giroux. 1975. 

$15,00 

Eyre. Methuen, 1976, $21.95 

Oscar Wilde 

Louis Kronenberger 
Little. Brown. 1976. $10.50 

Oscar Wilde 

Sheridan Morley 

Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1976, 

$14.95 

"Nothing can be more absurdly untrue." 
wrote Lord Alfred Douglas in 1937, "than 
the assertion which is invariably made by 
about half the reviewers when a new 
book about Wilde comes out — that the 
subject is exhausted and that nobody 
wants to hear any more about it. The 
subject will never be exhausted, just 
precisely because of its human and 
dramatic interest." 

Forty years later, the assertion 
continues to be made as books about 
the Insh writer and wit continue to be 
published. For Wilde's dramatic nse and 
fall is as perennially engrossing as those 
of Jesus, Napoleon and Hitler will always 
be. 

Among the authors of the three latest 
very different volumes on Wilde, only 
Sheridan Morley thinks lo make the poinl 
that the offenses for which Wilde was 
punished by two years "hard labor" are 
still punishable in Britain — and. one 
could add. in Canada — today, a number 
of the men involved were under 21 and 
the laws in both countries are very 
explicit! In this respect, nothing has 
changed in almosl a century. 

Two of the biographers — Montgomery 
Hyde and Louis Kronenberger — seem 
to have no qualms about rehashing old 




Oscar Wilde wearing his Canadian coat. 



apocrypha about Wilde, and, in Hyde's 
case, earnestly presenting even some of 
the more preposterous theories aboul 
Oscar's sexuality — for example. 
Bernard Shaw's idea that he was a 
victim of "pathological gigantism"! Such 
theories as this, and Robert Sherard s 
that Wilde was homosexual only during 
secret epileptic fits, anse from the still 
current view that there is always "a 
reason" for sexuality which is disap- 
proved by the powers that be, and that 
therefore responsible commentators 
must sombrely advance such "reasons" 
(even if they are patently idiotic). 

In line with this approach. Hyde (who 
refers to Wilde as a "pathological case 
study") digs up another old canard and 
trots its carcass round again, this is that 
Wilde only "turned to homosexuality" at 
the instigation of Robed Ross, and after 
he discovered he had syphilis So as not 
to contaminate his wife, he started bed- 
ding boys I 

Shendan Morley points out that, on the 
evidence ol Wilde's published letters 
alone, he was obviously a thoroughly 
experienced homosexual" by the lime he 
left Oxford, long before his mamage 



When Enc Bentley wrote to Hyde asking 
him whether he thought "Oscar didn't 
mind giving syph lo his own," he got no 
reply! 

Montgomery Hyde's is the bulkiest of 
these books, he has done a lot ot 
research, bul has ignored a lot too. 
including that of Rupert Croft-Cooke on 
Wilde's sex-life (chronicled in his The 
Unrecorded Ltfe ot Oscar Wilde). Hyde 
has produced a ponderous and some- 
times appallingly silly book, a great 
disappointment considenng his earlier 
books on the same writer, and on Gay 
history. 

Louis Kronenberger's study is slighter, 
retells a number of amusing but dubious 
stories about the great man, and tnes a 
little too hard to be clever, but it is better 
written than Hyde's, and more enjoyable 
to read. 

Mortey's book is by far the best of the 
three, the liveliest, the most careful and 
the most sensible — a worthwhile ad- 
dition to the vast literature in vanous 
languages about the man who is still the 
best known "martyr" for what many still 
regard as did the judge who sentenced 
Wilde and Alfred Taylor: "There is no 
worse cnme." he pronounced, "than that 
with which the pnsoners are charged." 

by Ian YoungD 

Superstar Murder? 

A Prose Flick 

John Paul Hudson & Warren 

Wexler 

Insider Press, 1976 

When the people at The Body Politic 

asked me what sort of books I'd be 

interested in reviewing, I answered 

"troth." 

I wanted to clarify my bent right from 
the start so I wouldn't be deluged with 
manifestos, tracts, analyses and other 
assorted ideological cannon-fodder with 
which I am ill-equipped and reluctant to 
deal. 

But froth... tor troth I feel admirably 
suited I envisioned my mailbox running 
over with cunningly designed books from 
the more Aesthetic small presses. Dazz- 
ling Firbankish novellae, smart lapidary 
poetry, no-holds-barred literary biog- 
raphy. And all of it gay of course. 

Then my bona fide reviewers copy 
arrived. 

I'm sure Wilde would have been able 
to whip up a supremely witty epigram 
about the difference between froth and 
scum, but after wading my way through 
all 347 pages of Superstar Murder?, I 
feel too mucky for wit. 

Superstar Murder?, a mystery a clef 
set in Manhattan, concerns itself with the 
suspected murder/disappearance/ 
abduction of a superstar singer named 
Bess Mittman. 

The whole a clef bit is handled with 
the least amount of subtlety and 
imagination Bette Midler and countless 
other New York regulars are quite 
obviously the models for the ill-assorted 
characters working their way through the 
mire that passes for plot. 

An admirably named Spot is the 
character that somehow makes it all con- 
geal. A naif in every possible sense ol 
the word. Spot sounds like he was put 
together by a computer programmed with 
the composite sexual fantasies of 
Advocate-readers: tall, butch, young, 
muscular, semi-straight, Spot wanders 
through the entirety of the book wearing 
cut-offs with a slight rip in the rear 

Over the course of the book Spot — in 
addition to solving the mystery — 
gradually comes out. thus providing the 
authors (Superstar Murder? is not a 
feat that could have been accomplished 
singlehandedly) with multiple chances at 
working out-of-the-closet rhetoric into 
their already faltering exposition. 

One would like to applaud and say the 
authors' hearts are property located — 
the liberation banner is hoisted rarely 
enough in fiction these days — but the 
lact that Spot's quest for a gay identity 
ends with him pining Bess Mittman s 
entourage leaves me cheerless. 

The authors vanous essays at coun- 
tenng sexism, demanding civil nghts and 
encouraging gay openness sound cun- 
ously tinny and forced At first I couldn't 
figure out why — the attitudes 



Our Image 



expressed, although not grounded very 
well either politically or histoncally (the 
whole gay movement began in 1969 in 
Greenwich Village?), are essentially 
adequate. But indubitably insincere 
nevertheless 

The other thing that bothered me was 
a particularly vicious cancature of the 
Village Voice's Arthur Bell In the book 
he appears as Edgar Ball (of the Village 
Vision), and a nastier bludgeoning a e'er 
you'd be hard-pressed to find 

Admittedly Bell works for a straight 
paper in a token position, but he has 
managed to do some decent articles now 
and again: there was his piece on the 
murder ot John Knight (the doset- 
queen newspaper heir), the frequent per- 
sistent badgerings ot New York City 
councilmen concerning gay rights, the 
series he did a few years back on Mafia 
control of New York gay bars ... 

And suddenly, tucked away on page 
260 of Superstar Murder?, comes a 
paragraph that makes everything fall to- 
gether — the insincerity, the uneasy hip- 
ness. the overly nasty caricature of Bell. 
A gay bartender for a gay bar blithely 
tells Spot, "...forget that propaganda that 
we're Mafia-controlled. That's the fiction 
the Vision and Edgar Ball put out. 
Probably to make a smokescreen lo hide 
their connections. Big business, political 
machines and Old Money Bartenders 
know.. " 

Nol bad for an impassioned denial ol 
Mafia control and an implicit rational- 
ization for it. 

The co-author (wilh Warren Wexler) of 
Superstar Murder? is John Paul Hudson 
You may remember him as the author of 
something a few years back called The 
Gay Insider. 

The Gay Insider, for those of you 
who've never seen it, was a bar guide 
Not just a book of listings, The Gay 
Insider carried personal testimonials by 
the author himself. 

Attempted hipness in the testimonials 
and the laying down of a good gay line, 
but underlying it all, that sense of sleaze 
that permeates Superstar Murder? 

John Paul Hudson once wrote bar 
guides. Now he's written a novel that 
devotes much space and ill-spared wit to 
denigrating a gay reporter and his 
attempts at exposing Mafia domination of 
an important part of gay life. Need we 
say more? 

by Will AltkenD 
Enquiries about this book may be 
directed lo The Gay Insider, Box 439, 
Ansonia Station, New York, NY 10023, 
USA. 



Music 



Living With 
Lesbians 

Alix Dobkin 

Women's Wax Works, 1976. 
$6.99 

Living With Lesbians is the second 
record on which you can hear Alix 
Dobkin. It is completely woman-made, 
and is a powerful taste of lesbian pride, 
as was Lavendar Jane Loves Women, 
her first album. Both of these records are 
high quality, musically and technically In 
fact, it is downright inspiring lo see the 
development of women's recording com- 
panies in the past few years, after grow- 
ing up to a chorus of "women just don't 
have a talent for electronics" 

No one could possibly find this collec- 
tion of songs monotonous. Alix Dobkin s 
Macedonian origin influences some of 
the songs "Dekka Slunselo" lor ins- 
tance, is a traditional Bulganan song with 
two harmonizing voices, unaccompanied 
What results is the kind of music thai 
gives you shivers on ihe spine 

The album is dedicted to "the voodoo 
queens who invented jazz Toughen 
Up." one of the most moving statements 
on rape I've ever heard is arranged to a 
jazz accompaniment It starts 'rom New 
York police statistics that indicate that 
the women most likely to be raped are 
those trained lor service jobs "She s 
restrained, and trained to be sweet, to 
smile, to grow up defenseless 3S a child 



3ody Politic/Oec-Jan 



Our Image/13 



posterity. 



POSTERS: Canadian 

American 

European 

Vintage 

and printed ephemera 



L 



265 queen st east 



861-1851 




MENDS 

DEC 7 8 and 9 SHOWTiMES 7:00 & 9:15 



new (/on 



SSI VONGE ST. 
925-S400 



" Just plain fantastic" Fraser, Globe & Mail 

* CHATTANOOGA CHOOCHOO * AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER * 




Our Image 



» JEEPER5 CREEPERS * THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU * 



Bayview Playhouse Theatre 

1605 Bayview Avenue, south of Eglinton Ave. East 
Tues.-Thurs. 8:30 p.m. & Wed. Mat 2 p.m. — $6-$7.50 
Fri. 8:30 p.m. Sat. 5:30 & 9:30 p.m. Sun. 3 p.m. $7-58.50 

Students & Senior Citizens (Tuesday-Thursday) $5 00 

Tickets available at all Eaton's stores through Attractions Ticket Offices 

(5971688) and all Sam the Recordman's stores 

For special group rates, call 489 2382 

RESERVE NOW! PHONE 597-1688/481-6191 



' 1 


r - M ■■■:-' ; ^r-i 




i jf 




■ 



fc, 



*y.- 



There's no preparation for a girl to be a 
woman alone in this man's world..." The 
song moves through the whole gamut of 
socialization that becomes a part of each 
of us — trom fashions lhat limit physical 
activity and discourage self-assertion, to 
the belief that any gesture more friendly 
than a snarl on the part of a woman 
means she's "asking for it." This song 
will sound familiar to every woman; it 
touches on our upbringing, our jobs and 
schooling, and all the rapes and degra- 
dation that happen to women in a sexist 
society. 

But then there are the humorous ones! 
As the comment on the jacket goes. 
"Amazon ABC — a saucy romp through 
the lesbo alphabet". The tune is a catchy 
kind, complete with fiddle music between 
verses. You'll find yourself humming it at 
the strangest moments — "A you're an 
Amazon, Becoming brave and strong. 
Clearly and Consciously you see.. " or 
later "Q is for the queer you fear you 
are." The humor of the oppressed often 
has a certain bite to it. 

The theme that this album is built upon 
is one of dyke separatism: women 
leaving the cities and starting again in 
the country with lesbian communities. I 
don't think this is much of a solution to 
lesbian oppression — I'm the type who 
favors sticking around to fight. Being 
completely self-reliant is no doubt a 
positive expenence for many women, but 
as Oobkin herself notes, sexism still 
comes out to haunt you. In the long run, 
and in [he interests of humanity as a 
whole, it's more productive to stay in the 
thick of it where you can confront sexism 
and its causes head-on. 

But while we're here, we can sure use 
more music like Living With Lesbians 
by Alix Dobkin. 

by Cheryl PruittD 

Songs of Love and 
Struggle 

Eric Bentley 
Burton Auditorium 
York University 
Toronto 

To overcome the barren impersonality of 
York University's Burton Auditonum and 
establish a mood of intimacy with the 
audience is no mean feat, particularly 
when all you're working with is a piano 
and a microphone. In recently accom- 
plishing this, however, Enc Bentley 
missed a rare opportunity to deal openly 
and honestly with the oppression of gay 
people — a subject the noted author, 
playwnght and critic has recently 
espoused in print (see BP's current 
review of CTR.) 

And considering the nature of 
Bentley's matenal, I don't think this was 
too much to hope for or, even, expect. 
The first half of the evening documented 
the struggles of nearly every oppres- 
sed group except gays (Blacks. Jews, 
women, workers) to win freedom and 
equality. Two of Bertholt Brecht's march- 
ing songs — "All or Nothing" and "Soli- 
darity" — established the distinctly 
political tone of the maienal early on and 
suggested that Bentley might eventually 
address the persecution ol gays, par- 
ticularly when he turned to "the various 
forms ol love" that were to form the 
second half of the evening. 



But this, apparently, was not the time 
or place for Mr Bentley to champion gay 
rights, or even to sing about his own 
experience as a gay male To-give him 
his due, he did sing "The Queen of 42nd 
Street", his translation of Prevert's song 
about a transvestite prostitute, but her 
refrain ("If that's the way I am/What's it 
to you?") is a pretty weak charge, 
especially in the company of Brecht's 
"Prostitute Song" from The Roundheads 
and the Pointed heads Nevertheless, it 
was a song with gay content The only 
other of the evening was Bentley's own, 
"The Male Bitch", which would have been 
better left out. An insipid imilation ot Noel 
Coward at his most trite, it perpetrated a 
stereotype that the audience obviously 
loved, but did little to develop the fresh 
portrait that Bentley said he was attemp- 
ting. Similarly. Bentley's strangely asex- 
ual translation of Prevert's paean to 
adolescent love, "Teen-age Love", 
merely appealed to sentiment instead of 
packing a political punch Moreover, it's 
sexlessness made it silly The idea that 
teen-age lovers kissing in a Parisian 
doorway would prompt jeers of disgust 
and loathing makes no sense to me, 
unless the two are ot the same sex. But 
what does Bentley tell us? "Kids that 
love each other/ Are dead to the world/ 
..in the dazzling clarity of their first love." 
Sing that to two eighteen-year-old 
lesbians! 

Perhaps it is too much to expect Eric 
Bentley to champion the plight of gay 
youth, even in a program that tells of 
Nazi atrocities. But is it too much to 
expect a man of his distinction, a play- 
wright who has dramatized the trials of 
Oscar Wilde and written a biting satire on 
the McCarthy "witchhunts" of Ihe 1950s, 
to resist pandering to his audience with 
"personal" remarks like "All love songs 
are written by middle-aged men 
remembering teen-age girls."? Using lines 
like this, Bentley was able to overcome 
the handicaps of a squeaky voice, 
obscure piano arrangements and an 
alienating auditorium to establish a close 
rapport with his audience But what for? 
by Robert WallaceD 



All Our Lives 

A Women's Songbook 

Joyce Cheney, Marcia Delhi & 
Deborah Silverstein (eds.) 
Diana Press, 1976, $6.50 
Well, here it finally is A women's song- 
book with the music and guitar chords 
and complete lyncs to seventy songs by 
and about women. On a practical level, 
I've been waiting for a collection of this 
kind for a long time. I'm sure everyone 
has been in a position of hearing a song 
somewhere, and then waiting years 
before ever heanng it again or finding out 
all the words. As far as I can tell, nearly 
every song I've ever associaled with 
women, and particularly lesbians, finds 
its place in these pages. 

There is another angle to the value of 
a book like this, though. In leafing 
through it, you may wonder why you've 
never heard ot many of these songs 
They are songs, for the most part, about 
women who did something extraordinary, 
who in some way defied or threatened 
the stereotypes generally found in music: 



Dec-Jan/Body Politic 



Our Image I 




Photograph accompanying "Ode ti 
Gym Teacher" 



division and haired between women. 
acceptance of humiliating conditions m 
return tor a man's protection, and 
general passivity There are contem- 
porary songs of lesbian pride and love, 
and some very old traditional songs 
about independence and self-reliance. 

There is one celebralion of femaleness 
that I am definitely going to learn, "The 
Armpit Song"; "if pits were meant to be 
bare then we would shed... (or what's an 
armpit without the hair?" 

All Our Lives is a first contribution to 
feminism and lesbian liberation's attempt 
to dig out the musical aspect of our 
hidden hislory The songs are meant lo 
be used — sung at rallies, on demons- 
trations, hummed and whistled They 
record our history in a form thai can be 
repeated and elaborated on by each of 
us 



by Cheryl PnilttG 



Dance 



Metaphors 

(Metaforen) 

The Dutch National Ballet 
Royal Alexandra Theatre 
Toronto 

Dance as a metaphor lor life A pas de 
deux as a metaphor for a sexual relation- 
ship? I can't think what else Hans van 
Manen could mean by the litre of his new 
ballet. But the title is the only unclear 
thing about it Metaphors, a ballet for 
eight girls and tour boys sel to the "Van- 
ations for Piano and Stnng Orchestra " by 
Daniel-Lesur, is a masterpiece, and as a 
masterpiece is difficult to describe justly. 
The conslantly shifting geometric pat- 
terns remind one of George Balanchine's 
ballets for the New York City Ballet, but 
Metaphors is no steal as Rudi Van 
Dantzig s Glnastera (offered in the 
DNB's second program) is Van Manen s 
attenbon to musical phrasing isn t as 
literal as Balanchine's for one thing, 
and his dancers are less obviously tne 
choreographers tools their personalities 
make a difference as seeing two casts 
dance the ballet proves Van Manen has a 
remarkable flair lor the theatrical as well, 
The silent opening sequence, in which 
two gins with sweeping arm movements 
pass and re-pass one another, sets the 
dramatic tone for the rest of the ballet 
What follows ~ the sudden, often start- 
ling entrances and exits tor the corps, 
the broken, chopped steps, the Irequent 
juxtaposition of the austere and the 

Body Polrttc/uec-Jan 



lyncal — adds resonance 

The focus ot the ballet is on two pas 
de deux, one for boys, one for girls The 
boys' utilizes familiar steps, lifts, and 
supported arabesques from the classical 
repertoire for balienna and danseur 
noble Emphasized, m an unselfcon- 
scious manner, is a predominanlly tender 
and supportive elemenl in the dance 
relationship For the girls . stnvmg for 
harmony, symmetry, and crystalline 
clarity is most obvious as each move- 
ment of one is complemented by a 
movement of the other When the boys 
slep m lo partner Ihem in traditional 
ballet style, the girls remain holding 
hands, even through lifts and supported 
turns, as if to emphasize the strength ot 
Iheir communion Both pas de deux are 
unabashedly lyrical and, though not 
sexual in the pelvic-gnnd manner, erotic 

The four pnnoipals of the first-night 
cast, Alexandra Radius. Sonja Marchiolli. 
Han Ebbelaar. and Francis Sinceretti, 
were all fine Ebbelaar. m particular, was 
effective in the boys' pas de deux. His 
ambivalence was all the more remark- 
able in light of the fact that he is best 
known for partnenng his wife, Ms. 
Radius 

One recognizes in Van Manen 's cool. 
Apollonian dance-vision a positive. 
deeply fell statement about the nghmess 
of same-sex relationships The abstract 
Metaphors stated this more clearly, too. 
than any piece of agit-prop story-dance 
could have done it deserves to be seen 
and seen again It deserves a better 
review than (his — it deserves postenty 
by Graham JacksonQ 



Theatre 



An Evening with 
Oscar Wilde 

David Renton. Producer 
Neptune Theatre. Halifax 

Oscar Fingal O'Flaherty Wills Wilde is 
perhaps the archetypal male figure ot 
Western culture His incisive polished 
wit, in literature, theatre and conver- 
salion, sprang from a gay sensibility and 
exposed the dynamics of class and 
property in Victonan society His flam- 
boyant image in the popular imagination 
was the source of many of the features 
of the modem stereotype of the artistic 
faggot" His tnal and conviction in 1895 
for homosexual offences was one of the 
most widely publicized trials of the past 
century, bnngmg to bear on a greal amsi 
at the height of his powers the repres- 
sive force of Viclonan England, in an act 
of official sexual terrorism the effects ot 
which are still felt today. Oscar Wilde's 
work, life and martyrdom are an 
important part of our history 

It is therefore noteworthy when there is 
a Significant* new performance of his 
work. David Renton. a major performer 
in the Neptune Theatre Company of 
Halifax for the pasi thirteen years, has 
created a theatncal event composed of 
excerpts from Wilde's books, plays, 
conversations and tna), called "An 
Evening with Oscar Wilde" The produc- 
tion, which features Renton and Joan 
Gregson, contains work from between 
1881 and 1900 The first segment is fast- 
paced and witty, beginning with the 
children's story, "The Remarkable 
Rocket ", and including excerpts from 
several plays, climaxing with a dazzling 
scene from "The Importance of Being 
Earnest", in which Ms. Gregson is im- 
pressive as the monumental Lady 
Bracknell The second half of the show 
maintains a more serious tone There are 
a condensed dramatization of The 
Portrait of Dorian Gray , excerpts from 
the tnal and from Wilde's condem- 
nation of the pnson system, and an 
electnfying rendition of "The Ballad of 
Reading Gaol . a poem about the 
execution ot a young soldier 

Gregson and Renton are consistently 
polished, clever, and professional. 
Renton has paced the work well so that 
a great deal of material flows smoothly, 
leaving the audience exhilarated rather 



than exhausted The emphasis is more 
on Wilde's work than on his life, and the 
production does not explore the signifi- 
cance ol the persecution of this gay 
artist, or importance of his gayness to his 
work. Renton does not ceteb'flte Wildes 
gayness, but neither does he apologize 
for it. This portrait is honest, sympa- 
thetic, and respectful 

The production is expected to go on 
tour next fall in Ontario and Western 
Canada Watch for announcements and 
check local art centres and playhouses 
for times and places. 

by Robin Metcalfe n 



The Canadian 
Churchman 

The Anglican Church of Canada 
Toronto, October. 1976 

If I had not been forewarned I would 
have been surpnsed indeed to see the 
photos of so many stalwarts of Ihe gay 
community slanng at me from ihe pages 
of October s issue of the Canadian 
Churchman This is the national 
newspaper ot the Anglican Church of 
Canada, published separately and as a 
supplement to countrywide diocesan 
papers Almost eight full pages were 
devoted to ihe topic of homosexuality, 
including such items as the lead 
editorial, interviews with members of 
Toronto's gay organizations, and articles 
on the Metropolitan Community Church, 
gay Anglican seminarians and clergy, a 
lesbian deacon of the Episcopal Church 
of the United States of Amenca, together 
with comments by psychologists and 
bishops There was also much basic 
information on gayness for the average 
reader, who il is assumed won't know 
too much about the subject Why the 
interest in it noW This May, the pnmale 
of the Anglican Church of Canada 
informed the House of Bishops lhat a 
task force had been set up lo study 
homosexuality Unpromismgly, the 
decision was the result ol a parish's 
concern about the possibility of homo- 
sexuality exisling within the church The 
tone, however, of the pages in Ihe 
Churchman is very positive 

The lead editorial comes oul strongly 
against the discnmination which gay 
people face Wherever there is a vio- 
lation of human nghts, there lies a clear 
role for the church to play It could -om 
ranks with those m the gay community 
working towards changes in provincial 
and federal law. it could work towards 
changing the public attitude that makes 
the gay man or woman an outcast in 
society It could remove the terror of 
those within its own ranks who lead 
a double life in daily fear that their homo- 
sexuality will be discovered It could do 
all these things — and it should It's a 
simple case of human nghts " If the 
church really harkens to these nice 
liberal sentiments and adopts a civil 
rights approach, then there does seem to 
be the prospect of progress. It is refresh- 
ing that the Churchman avoids any 
sterile theological nitpicking about homo- 
sexuality; St. Paul gets mentioned only 
once, thank goodness Theological 
wisdom is not one of the longer suits of 
Canadian Anglicanism, and one wonders 
what the task force's report, due soon in 
first draft, will have to say. 

When one looks at the new sensi- 
tivity of some of the church s hierarchy to 
women or gays one might almost suspect 
a death-bed conversion Perhaps the 
church is seeking good causes to 
demonstrate its relevance or perhaps it 
is merely reflecting, a little behindhand, 
general trends m society Probably il is 
not too profitable to examine motives 
The bishop ol Rupert s Land and the 
professor of pastoral psychology at 
Tnnity College, Toronto, are among 
those who emerge from the Churchman 
as being very positive towards homo- 
sexuality Yet, overall, the general 
attitudes of Anglicans towards gayness 
appear depressing There was hardly 



FIND YOUR 
WAY HOME 





We sell: 
Mandate ....$1.75 

Blueboy $2.00 

Advocate ...$ .75 
Body Politic $ .50 

Open 8 am - 7 pm 

Come - Browse 

Mail orders are now being accepted trom 
out*ol-town customers Prices are as lis- 
ted above Add $1 for postage Prompt 
delivery assured 



For your 

Apartment Cleaning 

weekly, bi-weekly or monthly 

call Duke Housekeeping Services 

(416) 961-9467 

Call evenings atler 6 PM 



GAY TIDE 

SUBSCRIBE TO 

Gay Tide 

PO Box 1463, Station A 

Vancouver, BC 

Canada 

$2 for 6 issues 

S5 tor 6 Issues 

(supporting subscription) 

All papers sent in 

plain wrapper. 




LIBERATING 
MASTURBATION 

a wioirAiiON on SEiriovt 

IlLUSTRATED BOOK \* POSTPA 
MAIl TO BETTY DOOSON 
BOX 19)]. NEW YORK 10001 



Metropolitan 

Community Church 

of Toronto 




Worship Services: Offices/ Drop-In 

Sundays at 8 pm Centre 

Hoty Tnnrty Church 29 Granby Street 

1 Tnnity Square Open evenings 

7-12 pm 

Church Distress Line 

364-9799 364-9835 

Teaching Gods Love for You 



Our Image 



gay* and the las* force prrjfSCl was not 
considsrsd • r»oh pnonty tofW church 
•i tw sms One laypsrson wd tist rt 
was w> compfccatad and ducats an 
issue 10 isgaUtfe a policy 
HomossxuaVty. Mw any sexuality, o 
obvcusly very embarasstfig lo the 

dwell 

The Churehrnsn articles well highlight 
the plight ol gay ordmands and clergy 
who tosl themselves torced to rema*i in 
the dosel The committee which screens 
cancMates tor ordination does not ordin- 
ary question them about their sexual 
orientation, but woe betide an eflemi- - 
nate male postulant or those who actually 
volunteered that they were gay You can 
be gay but you aannot act it or show it 
publicly As the Tnnlty professor saysr 
the gay ordmand has lo be political 
about II " TherelcVe. the gay divinity , 
student is nervo'us and closeted The 
bishop could be sympathetic, or he could - 
be like the bishop oi Edmonton who 
does not yet know whether homo- 
sexuality is a physical problem or not 
Gay clergy, also, iry to hide their onen- 
talion When Jack, a pnest. has church 
acquaintances m, his lover Rob goes out 
because "we don't want to cause any 
suspicion The dean ol St James 
Cathedral, Toronto, hopes lhat some 
homosexual clergy would try lo remain 
celibate Looking at all this, one can 
imagine how destructive the church 
might be for the personality of a gay 
pnesl or ordmand The close! seems 
strangely at variance with the church's 
teachings about openness and ihe need 
for personal growth Perhaps !he time is 
coming when publicly open and proud 
gay women or men will presenl them- 
selves lor ordination in the Anglican 
Church of Canada 

The October Churchman carries 
reports on the impending ordination of 
women to the pnesihood These women 
have persisted with determination in a 
hard struggle against discrimination 
There is a lesson here for gays which, if 
taken, may put an end to second class 
status within the church 

by Chris HeadonlJ 



Canadian Theatre 
Review 

Homosexuality and the 
Theatre 

Toronto. Fall, 1976, $2,50 
The Canadian Theatre Review devoted 
parts of recent issues to select "themes" 
such as Beverly Simon's plays, theatre 
for children, and theatre in Quebec 
Those got 1 63, 91 . and 1 1 8 pages res- 
pectively Its current issue lakes as its 
theme Homosexuality and the Theatre, 
with a total ol 35 pages Disrespectfully 

David Watmough, the Vancouver actor 
and writer, one of the several gay 
women and men on the CTR's Editonal 
Advisory Board, edits this "theme" sec- 
tion Watmough's aims are. ah, modest: 
if Ihe present issue raises some of the 
large questions surrounding homo- 
■axuany m our theatre (and sooety at 
large) il will have more than served its 
function ' 

Four short articles rehearse tour 
different questions Graham Jackson s 
quick survey of homosexual themes m 
Western drama since Anstophanes is. of 
course, already available m lan Young s 
The Hale Homosexual In Literature, 
though Graham has revised his essay lo 
mdude recent plays such as Streamer* 
and Hossnna Enc BentJey's 'The 
Homosexual Question — originally both 
oomrrassjoned and refused, a footnote 
teas us, by Christopher Street — has 
litae rjntct bearing on theatre but offers 
m a leathery iterate style a familiar 
cuftnJ analyse of homophobia homo- 
• anathema to a culture based 



Bsnflsy s eeaay m useful tor *nety*ng 
the cuMuraf content m which Jackson s 
themes parade i Arto tor «how*ig «i« 
common denomostor of WaM Whurtan s 
toaftng and Oscar WHii *rsvsrsncs 

Ift/OurfessajS 



Enc Nicol, desenbed as a piaywnght 
and humonsl from Vancouver. ' exhtxts 
his putative humor — f+co* must be 
Vancouver s answer lo Gary Lautens — 
■n a piece on anti-straight deenmmaaon 
*i Canada's fagoptndden theatre This, 
explains Mr Watmough deadpan, pro- 
vides balancing observations from a 
stra«ght or hetero vantage pomt And 
Robert Wallace, author of No Deposit 
No Return, atone meditates on my res- 
ponsfciiify as a gay playwright 

These articles achieve Mr Wat- 
mough s modest aims But they struck 
me as — to borrow a term which the 
chef stole from the thespian — hors 
d'oeuvres. We need a feast. 

Three quite different matters are in- 
volved: homosexuals or homosexual 
themes in plays; plays by homo- 
sexuals {and possibry lor homosexuals) 
dealing with the gay experience, and 
gays m the theatre industry Where is the 
analysis I asked myself, ol these 
matters'' Surely, I thought, there are 
minds capable of addressing these 
issues Surely a main course is possible 
beyond the finely stuffed celery 

I reread Mr Watmough's introduction 
several times, it struck me more and 
more as a slick evasion of the issues 
Why would, as he implies, a trenchant 
affirmation ol the homosexual contri- 
bution to the dramatic arts" be "a propa- 
gandistic weapon for gay rights "> Does 
he really believe {even as he publishes 
and praises Bentley's article) thai all arts 
are nol In some way propagandists — 
especially drama, which is so intimately 
linked with the sooety that produces M 
Why is there no such thing as a gay 
play, no more than there is such a thing 
as a straight play"? Just what cnteria 
determine his alternate calegones — 
there are good plays and bad plays "> 
Whoever said that merely the sexual 
orientation of its playwright determines 
whether a play is "gay" or "straight "7 
Isn't there some connection between ihe 
fact that some gays "buy ranch-type split 
level homes," epitomizing the middle- 
class sensibility and the kind of Irus- 
traton bolh straighls such as Eric Nicol 
and up-front gays such as Robert 
Wallace encounter? 

Mr Watmough implies lhat selt- 
consoous gays will accept any play by 
"a gay brother or sister' as excellent, 
forsaking all other discriminations And 
that such people — "the militant young " 
he calls them — deal uniformly with 
disagreement by labelling any dissenter 
an Uncle Tom." These are lies, of 
course, and no less repugnanl tor their 
smart defensive rhetoric 

Whatever brought such an ill upon the 
CTR? I rang up Robert Wallace, whom I 
had recently met. to find out whai he 
knew A little Seems that when he sub- 
mitted No Deposit. No Return as a 
playscnpt for this issue. Watmough 
asked him to write an article on how he 
feels when he's called a gay piaywnght 
Which he wrote Then later, Watmough 
rejected his senpt and indeed ruled 
against publishing any senpt in this issue 
— on the grounds that he did nol want to 
be responsible lor any gay play being 
labelled as gay Last May. WaJlace 
said, he mentioned to Watmough a 
number ol gay people in Canadian 
theatre with interesting contnbutions to 
make to this issue; Watmough contacted 
none ol them. 

But curiously, someone else did When 
the CTR managing editor scanned the 
contents Watmough submitted, he was 
distressed enough lo assemble a panel 
to discuss many of the matters 
Watmough evaded, just two weeks 
before the issue went to press On the 
panel are three ol the people Robert 
Wallace had suggested six months 
earter piaywnght John Palmer, actor 
Peter Joom, editor Ed Jackson (Palmer 
and Job<n, I believe, are coming oul here 
tor the first time in pnnt Bravo ) 

The panel discussion addresses the 
issues thai need to be addressed, the 
ones thai Mow when one recognizes, 
as Robert Wallace does and as David 
Watmough does not. that "Vie barriers 
which mpede equal rights for homo- 
sexuals n the country" are the same 
ones thai make gay theatre necessary 
and which demand that I make an sous 
o< my asxusMy " 

by Michael Lynch 



The Ivory Tunnel 




Small Press Books 

Bertrand Lachance s tes rivieres 
fattendent ($4 50 from Air. Box 48688, 
Stn Bentall, Vancouver) contains poems 
m both French and English, and in 
Lachance s useful, bissett-denved 
Canadian 

On first readings, this new book seems 
not as strong as Cock Tales, published 
three years ago Much of it looks like 
sketches for poems rather than the 
poems themselves — a technique that 
tends to work out best with very short 
pieces, some of those are ihe most 
appealing things in the book: 

you're all about love he says 
his eyes not yet open 
his mouth still glued by ihe nite 
where I can stiff taste myself 
his hair 
black nite wind 
hiding his eyes 
is the sea t seek 
And. out-skmnymg Creeley: 

to 

garcon 
blond 
montre 
bien 



dans 

son 

pantalon 

noir 

serre 



Devotees of gay literature will remem- 
ber Patrick Anderson as the co-editor of 
Eros: An Anthology of Male Friend- 
ship, a fine selection ol homosexual 
poetry and prose from Biblical limes 
through to the 1950s Published in 1961. 
it was the first gay anthology to be pub- 
lished since Edward Carpenter s lolaus 
almost haJf a century before 

As a Canadian wnter. Anderson is 
either a legend or an unknown, depend- 
ing on the company Bom in England, he 
became an influential Canadian poel and 
editor m the 1940s and '50s Later, he 
made England his home base lor the 
wide-ranging pumeys he transmuted into 
a number ol stones and travel books 
Though he has made a number of return 
wsrts to this oountry, he is. in spite of his 
contributions lo the national letters, often 
left off lists of Canadian poets by those 
who like their Canadianism neat. 

Now. a wide selection of Anderson s 
verse has finally been made available to 
Canadian readers — and about time' A 
Visiting Distance: Poems. New, Re- 
vised and Selected, is a collection ol 
about 70 poems, published by Boreaiis 
Press (9 Ashbum Dr.. Ottawa) at $5.95 
Taken as a whole, the book is little short 
of breath-taking, not only tor its sheer 
craftsmanship and control, builor the 
scope ol its subjects, its evocation of 
drverse places {Canadian and other), and 
its qmel dec4hs ol leefcng 

The style is British, rather lhan U S 
influenced measured and purposely 
literary in manner, yet un**e so many 
who wnte m »*s mode, Anderson's 
language and cadences seldom sound 
labored or ssrl-consc>ouary otd-fashoned 
Perhaps the best poem r, the book • A 



Boy s Pleasure', which is about an 
adolescent lyng n his room, mastur- 
bating Anderson realizes that the 
mechanics ol the experience are irrele- 
vant, and he resists, as many posts 
could not. a physical description con- 
veying instead the breathing, inner world 
The poem, like so many «i this book, 
works like a slow, silent depth charge — 
and then surfaces into the calm ol the 
sooal world with 

Downstairs its strangely easy Tea is 
laid 

He smiles His molher smiles What he 
sits down lo: 

the good marriage ol the honey and 
the bread. 

Anderson's images are dear and often 
startling In "The Road By My Door" he 
he writes of The Road , bare/moon- 
mottjed/warm as snakeskin, and. 
wandering at night, "my face/spilled like a 
loosed sack/info space " Scenes of 
England and Europe are as brilliantly 
evoked as the sounds and atmosphere 
ol a hockey practice in the cavernous, 
chill Canadian bam ol the poem "Rink". 
where the boys are "handling their slicks 
across these frozen zones/where I am 
gliding, twilight in my skates ." 

Though the settings and sublets are 
diverse, gay themes and references 
pervade the book: ihe almond-eyed, stlff- 
limbed "Archaic Kouroi" in a museum, 
"pioneers of the male body/, the male 
body is a doorway they stand in and fill 
with their heaviness. ', or. in Memory 
of Lake Towns", a remembrance of 
watching a boy swimming, thirty years 
earlier 

Other poems tell of Sirangers Brought 
Home", and of the "swimming-balh 
smells ' of Ihe Y.M C A In Montreal 
Too many absent-minded inches lo 

touch 
In more evasions than following 
hand-spans 
or the fingers' calculus 
can warm from abstraction 
Boys put that sort of thing right oul of 
their minds" 
they loom up taller than the longest 

stroke 
Even our literature cannol embrace 
and comfort them 

we have few poems lor naked sixteen- 
year-old boys 
falling headlong through the doorways 

ol themselves 
in their cold scorn I know they are 
puritans . 
. . They have lo 
run throw themselves away 
dive and be hidden again 
in the big pool m water and horseplay 
where even their magnified voices 
in which a hero might be trying lo 

speak 
are muffled by echoes 

A Visiting Distance is a collection 
with a consistently high standard lhat 
shows Patnck Anderson as one of the 
very best we have, one of the lew As an 
afterthought, it is interesting — and 
typical of Canadian publishers — thai the 
blurb on the back cover of the book, 
whicti lists even Anderson's anthology 
credits, neglects lo mention that 
pioneenng gay collection, Eros, which, in 
the years before gay liberation, was so 
important to so many ol us Perhaps II 
was seen as a tnvial thing, not worth 
no Wang 

George Hyde's clumsily-entitled vol- 
ume ol "impromptu verse . In Joumsy- 
ingi Often (Orlho. PO Box 1273. Ander- 
son. SC 29622) was written thirty year* 
ago and got him mo trouble then with 
the Roman Cathokc Church, in spile of 
the fact (hat rt reveals its author was tar 
from accepting ol fw own homosexuaMy 
George Hyde eventuaty toft the Roman 
Catholc Church and founded his own 
where he rose rmpkty lo the rank rjl 
bohop It is unclear why he has now 
dsodsd to rea m s this early book ma 
lotaty undubnguvnsd. both as postry 



by lan YoungU 
"Qse-Jsn/BW^PoM»ts